Magazine / July 2013

[Expose] We are all Arctic Defenders!

Protect the pure land. Protect the Artic with us!

Protect the pure land. Protect the Artic with us!

The North Pole is being threatened on three fronts: from oil exploitation, industrial fishing and climate change. Last year, we launched our Save the Arctic campaign, encouraging people to sign our petition calling for a reserve in the Arctic. We have six Arctic defenders that want to share with you their thoughts.

Climate change is a global crisis. That’s why Greenpeace has launched a whole range of actions across the planet – including in Hong Kong and on the mainland – to push for a clean energy revolution, a global sanctuary in the Arctic, and to call on all governments to work together to prevent this impending environmental disaster.

We Are All Arctic Defenders

Shu Qi: Please join me in saving the Arctic

“Our earth is sick and the polar bears are losing their home. A moment of your time, a single signature, and we can help save the Arctic. Everyone is an angel of the earth. Please join me in saving the Arctic.” Many celebrities joined us as Arctic defenders. Those from our corner of Asia include actress Shu Qi, singers Kay Tse, Chet Lam, Eman Lam, Cheer Chen, and Crowd Lu, actress Leila Tong, actor Lawrence Chou and Joey Leung, director Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan, designer Chocolate Rain, and cartoonist Kong Kee and more.

“Polar Bear”: The People of Hong Kong's kind support was really touching

Last July, Greenpeace dispatched some roaming “Polar Bears” to all corners of the globe to raise awareness about the threats to the Arctic. Two of these working bears dropped in on Causeway Bay to give the Hong Kong people a free hug. “Hong Kong is really hot, in just a few minutes I was dripping with sweat. I needed to keep drinking water to replenish all those lost fluids. But as soon as I felt the support from the people, I knew it was all worth it. This year we’ll be coming back to Hong Kong. We hope you will come and support us again.”

Fred Lam: I am entranced by boundless icebergs and Polar Bears

Hong Kong columnist Fred Lam joined scientists last April on Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise on an eight-day voyage. He assisted the scientists with measuring sea ice thickness and composition. “The world’s thirst for the Arctic’s resources can be seen in how oil companies are fighting with each other to get their hands on North Pole oil. How can we find a solution for man and the planet?”

Kumi Naidoo: It's Time To Stop Oil Drilling in the Arctic

Last August, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo boarded an Arctic oil platform owned by Russia’s largest energy company Gazprom to demand that it abandon its dangerous oil drilling plans. “Like Shell’s reckless plans to drill in Alaska, it’s not a question of if an oil spill will happen, but when. The only way to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from happening in this unique environment is to permanently ban all drilling now.”

Arctic Sunrise Radio Operator Steve:Thank you Two Million Times!

“Just as we got the bad news that the Arctic Sea ice had reached record lows, we got some good news that made everyone on board celebrate. In just three short months, we had collected the signatures of two million people who had signed up to be Arctic defenders.” The crew of the Arctic Sunrise made a heart shape from the flags of the 193 countries that belong to the United Nations to signify that the whole world wants to save the Arctic and also to express the ship’s crew’s thanks. With your support, we have the strength to save the Arctic.

Arctic campaigner Ben: People Power!

“Last September, one of the world’s richest and most powerful companies, Shell, announced that it was going to shelve its dangerous plan to drill for oil in the Arctic. This is victory for people power! Shell’s management knows that right now more than two million pairs of eyes are watching their every movement closely.” The voice of our global Arctic defenders is continuing to grow louder and louder, prompting Shell to once again announce that it wouldn’t be drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic this year either.

Expose the Problems of Hong Kong’s Electricity Market

Every year Hong Kong’s electricity prices go up. We have no say because the city's two big power companies hold a monopoly. Last year, we conducted many actions to raise awareness about this problem. Here’s our experienced senior campaign Prentice Koo to tell us what problems we found in current electricity market.

Problem 1: Against the Wishes of the People

We hired Hong Kong University to conduct a phone survey and found that 80% of those who answered want the government to have stronger control over the big power companies. The percentage is nearly twice the number from 10 years earlier. The current system is clearly not in accordance with the wishes of the people of Hong Kong.

Problem 2: Power companies have their heads in the sand

We compared Hong Kong’s electricity market with those in Europe and North America, and published a list of concrete suggestions for electricity market reform. Last July, when Hong Kong’s new administration was convening, our activists dressed up as Justice Bao, to hand over our suggestions to the new minister for the environment.

Problem 3: The People are Subsidizing Big Business

When we pay our electricity bill we are actually being charged extra as a “subsidy” for commercial users. We hung a large banner above the Christmas lights decorating Harbour City reading: “Reform the Electricity Tariff Now!” We highlighted how commercial users enjoyed 60% discounts on their power bills, grossly unfair compared to how residential users are charged. We also urged businesses to improve their energy efficiency.

Problem 4: Sneaky Excuses

In the past CLP have blamed rising natural gas prices and the cost of environmental equipment on rising tariffs. In early 2013, on the same day that CLP announced its tariffs hikes we hung a large banner outside their headquarters reading “Rip Off: Stop Blaming Climate Change.” accusing them of using the environment as an excuse to squeeze more money from the ordinary citizen.

Problem 5: Hidden tariff increase

We looked carefully at the data CLP gave to the Legislative Council explaining their requested tariff hikes of 5.9%. CLP later admitted that the balance of the FCA would be taken into account in reviewing the electricity tariff for 2014.

Opportunity in 2013

We will keep campaigning and use the opportunity of the Scheme of Control Agreement (SCA) mid-term review in 2013 as an opportunity to demand the government tighten control over the electricity market, push the power companies to pay the carbon reduction cost instead of shifting the cost to the public, and also to make sure that citizens get a fair deal on their power bills.

 

Have you noticed that in recent years Hong Kong’s skies have been grey and murky? And that everyone is talking about PM2.5? PM2.5 are tiny particles 2.5 microns in diameter. That’s 1/28th the diameter of a human hair. And the frightening thing is that they can’t be filtered out by the body before they reach the lungs, where they are absorbed into the body and can harm our health.

Breathing Dangerously

Just this last winter, northern China was smothered in haze and PM2.5 levels reached record highs. People walked the streets wearing face masks.

Most of China’s population is concentrated in the east, running from the North to the South, including Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta and even the Pearl River Delta region next to us here in Hong Kong. This is also where coal use is the most intense, and where PM2.5 pollution is the most serious.

But according to current regulations, most of the big cities need to wait until 2030 until PM2.5 will be reduced to safe levels. Who wants to wear a face mask for 20 years?

So last year we put out a research report, PM2.5: Measuring the human health and economic impacts on China's largest cities which calculated that currently in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xian, as many as 8,572 premature deaths can be linked to PM2.5 pollution, and that it costs these four cities 6.17 billion yuan in one year economic losses.