I’m currently contributing a short, light-hearted political column to Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version of my latest piece…
When it comes to international climate policy, HK is in the convenient position of being able to hide behind China’s developing country status and exemption from Kyoto Protocol cuts. Yet the most recent data suggests we produce a monstrous 29 tonnes per capita – more than the US or China and second only to Luxembourg. And as embarrassing as it is to lose to such a relentlessly bland country, this is not something HK should be getting competitive about.
One diamond is the rough is a certain Lucien Gambarota from a company called Motorwave. Lucien moved to HK from France in 1987 and has been tinkering with renewable energy technology for decades. Experimenting with wave, solar and wind power around the territory, Motorwave has even invented electricity-generating exercise bikes. Their own factory is going carbon-free and they’re hoping to make some small islands energy sustainable. Recently, Gambarota has been working with construction companies on the Kai Tak re-development, Hennessy Centre and at HKU to integrate thousands of his wind turbines into their building plans.
Certainly, HK Electric and CLP Power – reputed as one of the world’s dirtiest energy companies – need to take note and ditch their reliance on coal more quickly. However, there is unfortunately more to the figures than our own fossil fuel-based economy. Though we enjoy decent public transport, few factories and low vehicle ownership, much of our colossal domestic footprint is down to imports. When the built-in carbon cost of mainland goods and our high levels of consumption are considered, it is then when we see such huge per capita statistics.
Some green energy companies are definitely making waves, but our elephant sized carbon footprint will remain an elephant in the room until we see a campaign for austerity and challenge, rather than hide behind, the Motherland.