Environment and Sustainability

Care for the environment is often portrayed as detrimental to economic growth. For too long economics and environment have seemed like players on rival teams. There is a long-standing debate on the relationship between economic development and environmental quality. Sustainable development emphasizes the need for integration of economics and environment, as well as promoting intra and intergenerational equity. From a sustainable development viewpoint there has been a growing concern that the economic expansion of the world economy will cause irreparable damage to our planet.

In the last few years several studies have appeared dealing with the relationship between the scale of economic activity and the level of pollution. In this report, 2 case studies are explained. First case study is based on Hong Gong’s environment and its sustainability. In this, past and present environment of Hong Kong is explained and the environment protection and its sustainability are explained in detail. Second case study is of the effects on environment due to increasing demand of primary aluminum in current decade.

In this the impact of growing demand for primary aluminum on missions of greenhouse gases in the current decade is been explained. Environmental Challenges for the Next Century from Urban Pollution to Global Change Human beings started altering the surface of the planet a long time ago, at least since they began to establish settled communities and developed an agriculture that required polluting, irrigation and the clearing of forests. However, it is only in the past few decades that we have come to recognize the global nature of the impact of human activity on the environment.

Of course, it is also in this century that there has been enormous technological progress and economic growth in many parts of the world. The quality of life has increased in many ways – for example, the average life expectancy has more than doubled in the past 50 years alone. On the other hand, we now understand the environmental impact of this progress enough to know that we must change our view of the world – and we must adopt new ways of thinking so that we can expect a sustainable future for humankind. Sustainable development involves economic, social, and environmental issues – economic growth coupled to protection of the environment.

The challenge f sustainable development is to find ways to meet the needs of the people for better lives without destroying the resources upon which future progress depends. Sustainable Development Sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits – not absolute limits, but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources, and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities.

But technology and social organization can be managed and improved to make way for a new era of economic growth… In the end, sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

At the Earth Summit in 1 992, nations extended the above definition and adopted a set of principles to guide future development. The ROI Declaration on Environment and Development defines the rights of people to development, and their responsibilities safeguard the common environment (world Resources Institute, 1 986/1994/1995/1996/1997). There are many dimensions to Sustainability. First, it requires an elimination of poverty and deprivation. Second, it requires the conservation and enhancement of the resources base which alone can ensure that the elimination of poverty is permanent.

Third, it requires a broadening of the concept of development so that it covers not only economic growth but also social and cultural development. Fourth, and most important, it requires the unification of economics and ecology in decision making at all levels (Pearce, 1989). Local vs… Global Concerns The trend towards globalization and competitiveness in our world is relentless. Economic growth for industrialized countries involves trade and investments in countries with lower GAP per capita.

Is it acceptable to invest and build factories in the less developed country, taking advantage of their lower environmental protection standards? It is often assumed that the poorer countries cannot afford environmental protection, that pollution is a accessory consequence of the early stages of economic development. There are, however, many examples which show that the preservation of environmental quality is not a luxury, but a necessity; in the long run it is cheaper to anticipate and prevent pollution than to fix it prevention is better than cure.

Several aspects of sustainable development which stresses the environmental component are explained further. The examples involve urban air pollution in Mexico City; CIFS and ozone depletion, and climate change. There are, of course, other environmental issues which are also highly relevant, such as eater pollution, solid waste disposal, degradation of land, etc. Global Environmental Issues For global environmental issues the concept of sustainability involves the health of the entire planet.

Consider the CUFF – ozone depletion issue: it is now clear that continued release of industrial CIFS would lead to unacceptable risks stemming from increased ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. The international community was willing to accept regulations (phase out of CIFS through the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer”) that involve a current cost in order to prevent a future damage. If, however, the cost associated with the environmental damage is taken into account (I. E. If the economic externalities are internalized), a case can be made that it is more costly not to regulate. It is also a question of long term damage versus short term benefit. The dilemma is how to compute future costs: is the application Of “discount rates” to future Costs acceptable? If so, at what rate? On the other hand, with the CUFF issue we are already seeing effects at present (depletion of ozone and formation of the ozone hole) from actions taken in the past (release of CIFS a decade ago); hence, preventive action is relatively easily justified.

It is more difficult to call for changes in the way society functions if the immediate cost is large and if the damage is not yet entirely clear, as is the case with climate change caused by the greenhouse effect. Urban and Regional Air Pollution For urban and regional air quality issues, the geographical scale of the problem needs to be taken into account. As is the case with global issues, some of the environmental degradation might occur well beyond the location where the pollutants are emitted. In fact, many of the problems that are now ruffling on a regional scale appeared first inside cities.

One example of a regional environmental problem that first appeared in cities is the air quality problem: the chemistry of large portions of the lower atmosphere is now being affected by human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels. These activities generate nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, the ingredients of “photochemical smog”, which consists of ozone, particulates and other pollutants. It is not only the combustion of fossil fuels, but also the burning of agricultural waste products and forests that leads to air pollution, s was vividly demonstrated last year in Southeast Asia.

The urban air pollution issue has turned in recent decades from a local to a regional problem, and is now beginning to reach global proportions because it occurs so often and in so many places. It shoulder added to stratospheric ozone depletion and to the greenhouse effect as a significant global environmental issue. Equity and Environmental Protection There is also an important connection in the policy arena between urban pollution and global environmental problems, a connection related to the inequity in the distribution of economic resources – “the rich vs… Or” dilemma.

In this respect there is an important precedent: the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol, financed by the industrialized countries, was established in order to facilitate the transition to non-polluting, CUFF-free technologies in developing countries. These countries rightly pointed out that a large fraction of the ozone-depleting compounds found in the environment had been emitted by the industrialized countries, with a cheaper but more polluting technology. But the formation of the Multilateral Fund provided a powerful incentive for developing countries to sign the Montreal Protocol.

In the case of urban smog, in many cities the contribution to air pollution comes predominantly from older cars; new automobiles fitted with “state-Of- the-art” emission control devices generate about 20 times less pollutant than the older cars. Policy makers face the dilemma that allowing only newer, less polluting automobiles discriminates against the poor. The solution, however, should not be to allow increasing numbers of cheap but polluting automobiles; rather, it should be to provide clean and efficient public transportation, and to subsidize, if at all, the acquisition of cleaner automobiles by people with scarce economic resources.

These types of measures end up costing less if one considers medium and long time scales, and if one takes into account the environmental costs, e. G. The effects on health and on the quality’ of life. Of course, other issues such as traffic congestion also need to be taken into consideration. Integrated Solutions to Local and Global Environmental Issues The solution to global environmental problems such as the greenhouse effect and regional to global atmospheric pollution can be facilitated by taking an approach to these problems that integrates them with urban air quality.

In many countries the main contribution to emissions of greenhouse gases and photochemical ozone precursors originates in their large cities, and such countries are likely to pay more attention to these local issues. Both the greenhouse effect and photochemical air pollution are consequences of the burning of fossil fuels and other organic matter. However, the existing research agenda on global change issues is dominated by the perspective from industrialized countries, with little connection to urban pollution problems.

Information and Community Involvement Creating a better future depends on the knowledge and involvement of people of all sectors of life. Citizens must have access to high-quality education that enables them to understand the interdependence of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity, so that they can participate in decisions that affect their lives. While some global problems such as greenhouse gases must be addressed via international agreements, ultimately the solutions for sustainability must come at the local ecosystem and community level.

The key to success is local leadership and local institutions, working together towards a common goal. Education and Development of Human Resources Another important component of sustainable development is education and the development of human resources. To achieve sustainable development, it is essential to develop a solid scientific knowledge of the physics, chemistry and biology which form part of the Earth’s system; this knowledge is also essential to understand the ways in which human activities affects this system.

Furthermore, the technical, economic and social issues related to the preservation of environmental quality are becoming increasingly more complicated, and the formulation of satisfactory solutions to the problems associated with these issues require highly qualified personnel scientists, engineers, economists, etc. Such personnel must be familiar with the local environment, as well as with the local economic and social issues, but should also have a global perspective of these problems.

Investment in Research & Development Investments in science and technology are essential to improve basic knowledge and the innovations in processes and techniques needed to understand, anticipate and mitigate the emerging environmental threats. As stated earlier, it is sound policy to anticipate future problems as a means to reverent rather than simply to respond to environmental threats. These investments would have substantial returns for the health, economic prosperity, security, and well-being of all citizens. Market incentives and the power of the consumers can lead to significant improvements in environmental protection at less cost.

Case Study – Hong Gong’s Environment : From Pollution Control to Sustainability In the latter part of the twentieth century, Hong Kong experienced explosive economic growth that came with an environmental price that the Hong Kong of the twenty-first century must now address. The arrest-driven, regulation-free approach that drove the early economic development left the environment unprotected, but the economic boom of recent years has catcalled the shift to environmental awareness. Brown skies and pungent water choked Hong Congers who wanted a higher quality of life to accompany the newly found wealth that the economic boom generated. An increasingly well educated and internationally aware population is beginning to demand improvements in the environment in areas such as air quality, noise, waste and marine pollution” (Nair, p. 1). The establishment of the Environmental Protection Department (BED) in 1 986 need the laissez-fairer environmental policy, and with it began the regulation of the environmental effects of economic activity. Although the BED spent the remainder of the twentieth century enacting stopgap measures to remedial the pollution of the city in the near term, the goals of the BED have now begun to change to a long-range paradigm.

The department is becoming less focused on near-term solutions to the “end of the pipe” effects of pollution on the environment and is beginning to concentrate on planning for continued growth and removing the causes of pollution. This planning for a sustainable itty capable of continued growth has many fronts, from addressing the effects Of pollution, to efficient and clean energy, to stemming the flow Of waste resulting from the economic boom of Gudgeon Province on the mainland. Past and Present Environmental Conditions of Hong Kong Air Quality Air quality is a serious concern in Hong Kong.

To address this problem, the BED has established Air Quality Objectives, which have resulted in regular monitoring of air quality at both the street level and in the ambient atmosphere. The air pollution on the street is primarily blamed on diesel vehicles, which count for about 70 percent of total vehicle mileage in Hong Kong. The increased mileage traveled by vehicles in Hong Kong will continue to contribute to the poor street-level air quality because tall buildings in the busiest sectors prevent the wind from clearing the air (Hong Kong Policy Research Institute).

Ambient air, which is the high altitude air mass that blankets the city, is also a problem for Hong Kong, but less so than street-level air. Pollution levels in the atmosphere above Hong Kong are lower than on the streets, and the primary pollution sources are different. Ambient pollution is usually due to gases emitted from factory’ smoke stacks produced during industrial combustion and waste incineration as well as from vehicle emissions, although the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality is greater at street level.

Power plants and heavy industry are the most likely sources Of this type Of air pollution. Water Quality Polluted water can impact humans through both direct interactions, such as drinking water and bathing, and indirectly via the food chain. A major source of heavy water pollution in Hong Kong is the dumping of sewage and waste in the harbor. As the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute states, “Every year, ore than 1 50 million litter of untreated wastewater is discharged into the sea, [as opposed to] 50 million litter in the UK [United Kingdom]. As a result of this untreated waste dumping, 20 percent of Hong Kong oysters had Hepatitis A virus and an average cadmium concentration 40 percent above standard in 1 997 (Hong Kong Policy Research Institute). The presence of the virus and heavy metal in the shellfish population Indicates that pollutants are making their way into the population via the food chain. River water quality around Hong Kong is also poor. The Shins Mum River in Hong Kong has had high concentrations of E. Oil, which is an indication of water contamination by sewage or agricultural runoff.

The Donating River on the mainland is Hong Gong’s primary drinking water source; however, the quality of this Water is in doubt. The Gudgeon province claims that the water meets People’s Republic of China (PR) standards, but university studies indicate the water is still heavily polluted. (Hong Kong Policy Research Institute) The Hong Kong Policy Research Institute expresses the following concern: “Some of these pollutants can cause toxicological effects and affect children’s growth. Environmental Protection Department Policies

Faced with the deteriorating environmental situation in the city, the BED has initiated several programs and policies since its founding to reduce pollutant emissions. Many of these programs have been successful in reducing air pollutants and enhancing water quality. The different types of policies are as follows:Air Pollution Policies Water Pollution Policies Sustainability In autumn 1997, the HUSSAR government commissioned the Study on Sustainable Development for the structure in Hong Kong (SUEDE 21) as a first step to bring sustainability into planning and decision-making.

The Borderland Report, drafted by the World Commission on Environment and Development, brought to world attention the urgency of a commitment to sustainable economic growth that would not deplete world resources or pollute the environment. The World Commission offered a broad definition of sustainability: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (SUEDE 21 p. 0). Sustainable development in Hong Kong balances social, economic, environmental and resource needs, both for present and future generations, multitudinously achieving a vibrant economy, social progress and a high quality environment, locally, nationally and internationally, through the efforts of the community and the Government (p. 21 SUEDE 21 provides the government with a framework that can be used in planning and proposal evaluation.

For example, applying the SUEDE 21 framework to a proposed construction project in an urban area of Hong Kong would cause the planning group to ask how the project and the new structure would affect air quality, water quality, the biodiversity of Hong Kong, driving times and demands on public housing due to the increased number of jobs. If the positive impacts of the project, such as economic growth or decreased poverty, outweigh the negative impacts, or if the negative impacts have been addressed and reduced through engineering or better design, the project would be approved.

The SUEDE 21 commission also concluded that efforts needed to be made to raise the awareness of sustainability in the population. Conclusion Hong Gong’s environment has for some time been in a deplorable state, but the environmental situation has begun to improve in recent years indicating hope for the future. Evidence shows that while air and water quality have improved over the last decade, they do not yet meet Hong Gong’s own standards and objectives. The BED has enacted several successful remediation policies, but these are mostly focused on reducing pollutant releases into the environment.

With the completion of the SUEDE 21 study, Hong Kong is beginning to examine the future impacts of its policies and new project proposals. Development is beginning to move beyond merely raising economic and environmental concerns to calling for a more complete analysis of its impacts on society, environment and economics, both locally and internationally. The Hong Kong government has taken the first critical steps to combat its environmental issues: it has identified them and is beginning to take comprehensive actions to solve them.

All in all, the city has come far in recent years in establishing the framework for moving beyond pollution and into integrated planning and development. Case Study – Increasing World Demand for Primary Aluminum in the Current Decade: A Burden for Environment? Aluminum is a metal which is famous for its light weight property in the manufacturing industry. The popularity of aluminum is due to its mineralogical and chemical characteristics.

But, the recessing of aluminum is done by using natural energy and resources and thus it is highly polluting. Primary aluminum is the basic requirement for aluminum alloys and products. Also it can be seen that there is an increase in demand for primary aluminum with the increase in economic growth. Thus, there is a likely growing stress on environment by aluminum processing. This case study can help us to know whether increasing demand for primary aluminum in the current decade is accompanied by rising emissions of greenhouse gases (GOGH).

Processing of primary aluminum Aluminum is the third most abundant element on the Earth’s surface other Han oxygen and silicon The Earth’s crust to a depth of 16 kilometers contains almost 8% aluminum. Aluminum has a strong tendency to combine with other common elements and therefore rarely occurs in nature in the metallic form. For processing primary aluminum, aluminum oxide is used which is enclosed in bauxite. To be used economically, bauxite should contain at least 40% aluminum oxide. Mined bauxite is processed to alumina in two steps.

In a first step crushed bauxite is digested by caustic soda and thermal energy, getting after several mechanical and chemical processes aluminum hydro oxide. This is calculated to aluminum oxide. To produce primary aluminum, the aluminum and oxygen in alumina must be separated by electricity in the reduction process. This reduction takes place in carbon-lined cells, through which direct electric current is passed. The bottom of each cell acts as a cathode. Carbon is used in the cell to serve as an anode.

Inside the cell, alumina is dissolved in a bath of molten electrolyte, composed mainly of creosote. The electric current passing from the anode to the cathode separates oxygen from alumina, which reacts with the carbon anode to form arbor dioxide, while the aluminum metal settles to the bottom Of the cell to be siphon off [Gainer and Berthed 1999]. The model GlobAl GlobAl belongs to the group of partial equilibrium world trade models and is linear by its nature. The model gives a simplified picture of the process chain of primary aluminum.

The entire material flow, considered in the model, consists of the three processing steps – bauxite mining, alumina refining, and primary aluminum smelting – as well as the production of caustic soda, baking of anodes, and transportation. Caustic soda is used to digest aluminum oxide, nodes in electrolysis. For mining only one technology is modeled, which is not altered until 201 0. Blat due to technical progress, requirement of all input goods decreases between 1 995 and 2010 by 20%.

Alumina is refined in the model by six types Of processing: three types Of digestion – autoclaves with high or low temperature, tube reactor – are combined with ;o types of calculations ; rotary kiln process, fluorides bed process. Four technologies are distinguished for smelting: Stromberg (VS..), side-worked pre-baked (SWAB), centre-worked pre-baked (CAP) and point-feeder pre-baked (PUB) technology. Point feeding is the most modern technology. Demand and production of all goods are separated geographically. Hence, the world is divided in 15 regions.

The model calculates on the base of minimizing the total costs of production, investing and transport the production of the different goods in each region as well as trade flows between regions. Irrespective of this, since in all markets perfect competition is assumed the model is demand driven. Demand for primary aluminum is exogenous given. Demand for alumina and bauxite is derived from the demand of primary aluminum and alumina, respectively. The assumption of reefer competition secures that bauxite, alumina, and primary aluminum, which is produced in a region, is disbursed domestically and abroad completely.

The chosen objective function implies profit maximizing economic agents. The model is static and depicts the development between 1 995 and 2010 in One period. TO assess the impact of primary aluminum processing on climate change, the model balances the emissions of CHUG. In this model emissions of carbon dioxide (ICC) and the predominated hydrocarbons (PECS) thermonuclear (CUFF) and hexafluoride (CUFF), are considered. The data in the base year refer to 1995 [CB. Schwartz 2000]. Scenario: Cases and results The model is used to analyses the effects of changed demand for primary aluminum on GOGH emissions.

Emissions occur during processing, either as final energy is used or due to the so called anode effects.. Anode effects cause carbon from the anode and fluorine from the molten creosote bath to combine, producing sign efficient quantities of predominated hydrocarbons [Gainer and Berthed 1999]. Additionally, carbon is reacting with the dissolved oxygen to carbon dioxide [Lawman’s Encyclopedia 1985]. Emissions emitted during generating electricity as well as during anode aging, caustic soda production and transport are assigned to the material flow of primary aluminum.

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