On June 16-17, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) hosted its first environmental conference in Hong Kong. The inaugural Climate Change Hong Kong Summit took place over two days. It was an in-person event convening some 200 policymakers, business leaders, and climate response advocates for a full first day of inspiring and informative programming that was also broadcast live to a virtual audience. This continued for a second day as a purely online programme.
The day before the event kicked off, we officially announced that the Summit would be carbon-neutral.
This being our first climate change event, we wanted to go the extra mile to ensure we took all possible measures to offset the carbon emissions generated in the process of running the event — from transporting goods and materials to hosting virtual sessions, providing food and drinks to in-person attendees, and integrating hybrid facilities.
While the decision to run a carbon-neutral climate event was a no-brainer, the calculations involved were certainly not for the faint-hearted. Organising the logistics took months of planning in close consultation with our partner Carbonbase. The SCMP Events team put a lot of effort into reviewing parameters, obtaining data from suppliers and vendors, and making early decisions on items that would usually be the last to consider.
The questions we asked were comprehensive, varied, and, at times, unexpected:
- What kind of power does the venue use?
- How many online attendees are we expecting?
- How much of our event collateral — badges, lanyards, booth components, and the like — is going to be recycled, and how much is going into landfills?
- What meal are we going to serve: fish, beef, pork, or vegetarian?
The process made us realise that every single decision, purchase, invitation, and broadcast generates a carbon footprint that needs to be effectively calculated and addressed.
The end result
Our partnership with Carbonbase has proven to be an informative and enlightening experience, and we would like to invite everyone to participate in this net-zero journey.
After ascertaining the level of carbon emissions we could expect from the Summit, SCMP Events purchased carbon-offset credits through our partner. There were several sustainability projects that would be beneficiaries of our credits, among which we had to choose.
For our inaugural summit, SCMP Events selected the UPM Sichuan Rural Poor-Household Biogas Development Programme, a certified sustainable development goals (SDG) impact project under the Gold Standard for the Global Goals programme.
We want our audience to take action in offsetting their personal carbon footprint. All attendees have been invited to complete a post-event survey to gather feedback on their experience as a participant; this is a standard process for any event.
For completing the survey for the Climate Change Hong Kong Summit, the attendees will be provided with a special carbon credit voucher, which can offset two months of their personal carbon footprint living in Hong Kong, including their participation in the event.
The survey is still ongoing. In the few days since the Summit taking place on June 16, an encouraging 20% of our attendees have taken part so far.
We hope to continue such initiatives beyond this one event. All impactful work begins with that first step, and at SCMP Events, our carbon-neutral journey has only just begun.