Archive for May, 2008

Hong Kong

Monday, May 5th, 2008


In late April I was in Hong Kong once again for a series of business meetings, factory visits, etc. One of the highlights of this trip was a visit to the HK University of Science and Technology, where I met with Alexis Lau, Simon Ng, and other researchers who are tackling air quality modeling, policy and other technical aspects of the local air pollution problem. They arranged for me to stay on campus, and so I had a chance to check out their beautiful waterfront location on the Clear Water Bay peninsula — a very nice physical setting indeed!!

There’s still tremendous interest about the emissions trading situation at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, as my talk in Japan (i.e., previous posting) indicates. HKEx issued a press release in January 2008 (one month after our report presentation) announcing that they would take active steps to participate in the carbon market, and link up with another exchange before the end of 2008; in April they also discussed the issue in their quarterly newsletter Exchange. In February, Dow Jones Newswire also had an article about Asian carbon exchanges (quoting yours truly), and so we’ll continue to closely monitor events in this area.

And while in Hong Kong, I also picked up a copy of Matthew Harrison’s recently published novel, Jessica’s Choice, and read it on the plane coming home. You might recall last October’s posting mentioning Matthew’s book of short stories, and this is his first novel. It’s about a young woman who is trying to get Hong Kong companies to practice corporate social responsibility (CSR), but she runs into considerable skepticism and obstacles from the local business community. On several occasions Matthew employs local air quality to help set the scene:
The air flowed in to them from China, bringing the reek of the factories there, the toil that was reshaping the world.
and later:
Outside, the tops of the buildings opposite were barely visible, and the haze caught her throat. When would someone care about that? But she supposed that the haze was from China, from the very factories she had visited….  No one could do anything about it.
The latter is a common HK sentiment — but one that we definitely hope to change in the future.  Congrats to Matthew on a really significant accomplishment!


Monday, May 5th, 2008

In late April I was in Tokyo, giving a talk at a conference sponsored by Nikkei, the leading daily business/economics publisher in Japan (and, yes, for those of you who closely follow Asian stocks, they’re the folks who calculate the Nikkei average).  The conference focused on how Asia might move ahead with emissions trading systems, and it was publicized in their paper and opened to the public — and so we drew a nice crowd, with more than 500 people in attendance.  Prof. Yoshihiro Fujii, who heads the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies at Sophia University, organized the meeting, and I gave a presentation entitled Emissions Trading in Asia: The View from Hong Kong. (And b.t.w., the calligraphy to the left spells out my name in Japanese — or at least I hope so, since that’s where I sat!!).

Tsukiji fish market

While in Tokyo, I also took a 5 a.m. sojourn over to the amazing Tsukiji fish market.  I had first read about Tsukiji several years ago in Carl Safina’s classic work, Song for the Blue Ocean.  That book describes the problems associated with the over-harvesting of fish stocks in the ocean, and his description of Tsukiji — the world’s largest wholesale market — was particularly memorable. It’s now become a major tourist site in the city. I had the obligatory early morning sushi breakfast in one of the market’s bustling food stalls, but having read Safina’s jeremiad, I confess to feeling just a little bit guilty as I downed the tuna specialty piece.

[Note: Nikkei published an article about the conference in June, with yours truly commenting about coordination amongst carbon markets within the region.]