Bright idea fails to generate spark of enthusiasm

Environmentalists urging the people of Hong Kong to switch off their lights in protest over the city's terrible air quality were disappointed by the limited response to their call.

The campaigners, mainly from Hong Kong’s large ex-pat community, had called for a city-wide three minute black out at 8pm on Tuesday, August 8.

But while a slight dim could be witnessed in the city as many homes, bars and restaurants resorted to candle light, the plea was largely ignored by large businesses and energy hungry sports stadia.

The Lights Out campaign captured the attention of both local and global media as concern over air pollution in Hong Kong grows.

Despite plans for a 100MW wind farm to alleviate the problem (see related story) the coal fired power stations which currently supply the city with energy as well as dirty heavy industry in the neighbouring mainland mean Hong Kong is frequently enveloped in thick smog.

Problems are exacerbated by the vertical nature of Hong Kong – a city full of skyscrapers and tower blocks built on a hillside – which causes pollutants to become trapped in the artificial, windless canyons which make up the city streets.

Organisers of this week’s action have not been put off by the lukewarm response to the campaign and there are now plans to link up with fellow Far Eastern industrial leviathans Taiwan and Tokyo for a regional Lights Out campaign.

Other grassroots efforts to tackle pollution in Hong Kong include the Don’t be Cold, be Cool campaign which mirrors Japan’s official Cool Biz initiative by asking workers to leave jackets and ties at home and not to set the air conditioning on too low a temperature and Clear the Air, a coalition of volunteers working to improve air quality.

Sam Bond

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