Intelligence Squared, the leading global forum for intellectual and cultural debate, held its second event in Asia on 11 November 2009. The debate, which was a collaboration between Intelligence Squared and Civic Exchange, the leading public policy think tank in Hong Kong, took place before a live audience of nearly 300 people at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and tackled the contentious issue of climate change including thorny questions such as: Will US inaction condemn Copenhagen talks to failure? Is China really leading the global transition to a low-carbon economy? Is the Western lifestyle more damaging to environment than Asian economic growth? As the main polluter, should the West foot the bill for tackling climate change? Is Asia neglecting Green for Growth?
Speakers for the motion: “The West is full of hot air. Asia is saving the world from climate policy disaster” were Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, and Gwyn Prins, Professor, London School of Economics. Christine Loh, Chief Executive of Civic Exchange, and Eric Bettleheim, Founder and former Executive Chairman of Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd., spoke against it. The debate was moderated by Deborah Kan, Presenter, Reuters Television.
The pre-debate vote showed that 28% of the audience were for the motion, 50% were against and 22% were undecided. Following the debate, 19% people were for the motion while an overwhelming 80% voted against and 1% were undecided.
Intelligence Squared Asia co-founder, Yana Peel, said: “We were delighted by the turn-out for last night’s event and the quality of the contributions both from the stage and from the floor. The feedback suggests that Hong Kong has embraced Intelligence Squared as a platform for stimulating critical thought and impassioned discussion of the most important issues of the day, and we plan to continue bringing the best and the boldest to the podium on topics of global and local political, economic and social relevance.
Last night’s Intelligence Squared climate change debate was sponsored by Deutsche Bank. Other event supporting partners included Ogilvy, Cathay Pacific, Shama, the Financial Times and Time Out. The debate was followed by a dinner in honour of the speakers hosted by John Hardy and attended by 50 guests comprising local climate change experts, leading media, and friends and supporters of Intelligence Squared Asia.
Since their UK launch in 2002, Intelligence2 debates have attracted the world’s leading thinkers, writers and activists, drawing crowds of up to 2,500 in London’s most historic venues. Now reaching up to 70 million people through its partnership with BBC World as well as millions of online viewers, Intelligence Squared host discussions and debates globally. The group’s first debate in Hong Kong in May this year on the ownership of cultural treasures drew a sell-out crowd of 500 people and featured Sir David Tang, Simon Jenkins and Lord Colin Renfrew amongst others. Future debates in Asia are planned for February and May 2010 on a range of topics including the economy, culture and politics.
Intelligence Squared Asia was established in 2009 by Yana Peel, co-founder of Outset Contemporary Art Fund, a non-profit organisation that supports public education, production and display within the arena of contemporary visual art; Amelie von Wedel, art consultant and founder of Wedel Fine Art; and Su-Mei Thompson, Executive Director of The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong.