Wednesday 1 June 2022

SCMP - Four lessons Sweden can teach Hong Kong on reducing carbon emissions

Pedestrianing in sweet Sweden. Great for health.
So-so for net zero
I refer to the letter from Swedish representatives in Hong Kong offering us gratuitous advice on how to meet our climate goals. ("Four lessons that Sweden can teach Hong Kong to reduce carbon emissions", 1 June)
To their "four lessons”, I offer four responses.
1. "More government-private cooperation". Our government would love this! An open invitation to yet more "advisory committees", yet more "consultative groups"; yet more "dialogue" and even more "ongoing discussions" (which are always "win-win"). These may achieve results in Sweden, but here in Hong Kong they're just a way to kick that proverbial can down the road.
2. "Revisit the energy mix". These Swedish "teachers" fail to mention that in Sweden the mix has nuclear at 30% of electricity. As it is in Hong Kong. Unmentioned. 
Wind and solar are all very well, but cannot solve our electricity supply in Hong Kong because we simply don't have the space. 
I have just installed rooftop solar, but we have a house. More widespread residential rooftop solar — which we should encourage — cannot be a CO2 solution in Hong Kong as we are the world's most vertical city. Meantime Commercial solar needs 400 times the land to produce the same amount of electricity as a modern nuclear reactor. Where will we get that land, dear Swedish teachers? From the remains of the Fanling golf course? When we have intense competition for land for housing? Wind turbines face a similar problem.
Surely we ought be looking at replicating the magnificent Daya Bay nuclear power station (which I have visited) close by on the mainland or consider small modular reactors right here in Hong Kong. 
If we think we have the land for solar and wind we most assuredly have it for nuclear.
Even the IPCC says we have to radically increase our production of nuclear energy, by at least five-fold. But people don't dare mention it, such  has been the success of nuclear scare-mongering of the greens. Scare-mongering about a power source that is the safest of all.
Again, none of this is mentioned by our Swedish teachers.
3. "Recycle waste from property development". I agree. But that's a feel-good initiative, virtuous to be sure, that is nowhere near a game changer considering what we face is, we are assured, a "climate emergency".
4. "Promote balanced diets". Again, fine, but not a game changer. I long ago shifted to eating less meat. I have learned this: that meatless alternatives like the brands "Beyond" or "Impossible" have their own problems: they have more calories than meat, they are high in salt, and they require soybean monoculture, which other environmentalists (some of them Swedish!) tell us are bad (And I believe them…).

In sum, thanks Swedish teachers, but no thanks. If we are to be serious in Hong Kong about our net zero targets, we simply must include nuclear. Renewables, fine as they are, cannot do it for us. Property developers cleaning after themselves, or all of us eating less meat, all fine and dandy, cannot do it for us either. Their Swedish "lessons" are  — dare I say it? — fiddling while Stockholm burns.

Pf etc…