We must aim for buildings that are more environment-friendly

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, 12:00am

The globe is getting hotter and we are like the proverbial frog sitting in the boiling pot until it is too late.

When is the Hong Kong government going to get serious about this threat? Our electricity companies are churning out more pollution just to keep up with air-conditioning demands. Yet we see large store fronts wide open, allowing the cool air to flow outside. What are these store managers doing trying to cool the streets?

The Legislative Council should long ago have passed a law forbidding building owners from operating air-conditioners when the doors of the building are open.

Electricity consumption is directly linked to pollution and carbon dioxide emissions so we must now set a cap on its production.

It is high time that a yearly target for reductions of 2 or 3 per cent is mandated so that people will begin using less and paying more. The revenues from a higher tariff should then be invested in environmentally beneficial projects.

One immediate requirement is to subsidise the installation of solar hot-water heaters on suitable buildings. Why is Hong Kong so far behind other cities in hot climates in this regard? Anyone who visits Israel is impressed by the abundant use of such energy-saving devices.

Many cars are provided with sun roofs. These should not be sold in Hong Kong because they require excessive air-conditioning on sunny days.

Architectural firms and departments of our universities should be advised that all future buildings must be certified to be environmentally sound before they can be approved for construction. No more glass houses, no more 'wall effect' or 'power gluttons'.

It should be clear to all of us by now that the environmental crisis is also a political crisis, because it exposes how citizens and governments have lost power over events. The power has been assumed by corporations which control the globe's resources and set our priorities.

If even a centralised administration like communist China cannot preserve its environment, what hope does our corporate-dominated world have? Kyoto protocols, a Copenhagen environment summit? Forget it. Fellow Hong Kong frogs, the pot is going to get hotter, so enjoy the heat.

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po