Climate Dialogue was a four-day international conference on climate change held in Hong Kong from 3 to 6 November 2010, with about 1,600 delegates. Mindful that environmental and carbon management of events is a global trend but not yet the norm in Hong Kong, the Organizers used the conference as an opportunity to learn more about greener conferencing.
Civic Exchange commissioned RESET Carbon Limited, a professional carbon management firm, to carry out the
captioned event carbon audit. Some of the greener conference initiatives at the event include:
- Including environmental considerations in the tender for the major contractors;
- Arranging complementary MTR cards or low carbon vehicles (hybrids and EVs) for international invitees’ transport from the airport to hotels;
- Selecting a venue easily reached by MTR and providing a map to delegates showing MTR location;
- Limiting the size of the hardcopy conference programme and excluding souvenirs and other paraphernalia for general delegates;
- Biodegradable bamboo fabric lanyards for conference badges purposely left plain with no logo or branding so they could be used for other events;
- Discouraging delegates and speakers from disseminating hardcopies of presentations or promotional materials and encouraging them instead to add materials to the ‘Resources’ section of the conference website;
- Promoting the conference through mostly electronic means;
- Limiting the amount of disposable material backdrops and decorations by making use of electronic projections, hired pot-plants and audio-visual effects;
- Supplying drinking water in jugs and glasses rather than in small individual bottles, as well as working with the venue on sorting and recycling systems for consumables;
- Working with caterers on lower carbon menus for lunch and refreshments, as well as collection of scraps for composting;
- Purchasing offsets for the total estimated carbon emissions of about 1,300 tCO2e for the conference, including international flights for delegates, which represented about 95% of emissions.
The Organizers used Climate Dialogue as an opportunity for benchmarking conference delivery with a view of continuous improvement in future events. Some of the learnings included:
- Hong Kong businesses are reluctant to share data on utility usage, which affects the collection of data;
- Every environmental initiative represents a marketing opportunity about environmentally focused choices, including delegates’ own behaviour during the conference;
- As yet, customer demand for a low carbon, environmentally sensitive catering is not strong in Hong Kong, and will require an ongoing process of communication and education; and
- Communications and training applies along the whole event supply chain, to ensure that all staff, volunteers, and service providers are aware of low carbon principles.