Activists from Extinction Rebellion Hong Kong staged a dinner party in the South China Sea on Sunday to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

Photo: Extinction Rebellion Hong Kong.

In formal dress, four members sat at a dinner table as the ocean lapped around their legs. According to the group, their plates were filled with plastic and rubbish, rather than food, to highlight the issue of microplastics and trash in the sea.

“Hong Kong does not have a strategy in place to replace fossil fuels by decarbonised energy for its electricity generation,” the group said in a press statement. “The adopted strategy – to replace one fossil fuel by another, in this case coal by natural gas – is, while less carbon-intensive, ultimately highly counterproductive.”

Photo: Extinction Rebellion Hong Kong.

The stunt took place on Lamma Island near the coal-fired Hong Kong Electric power station.

“With projected increase of sea level under our current ‘Business as usual’ scenario, we have to realise that hundreds of millions of people will soon live in annually flooded areas… and will have to relocate elsewhere,” said Extinction Rebellion member Pauline Dufour. “Moreover, 4.6 million people around the world already die every year due to air pollution. And these two life-threatening consequences are no stranger to one another: they are both caused by human activity.”

They urged the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency and act immediately to achieve decarbonisation by 2025.

Harriet Hulme, another of the group’s members, said that Hong Kong is especially vulnerable to sea-level rises. “yet the government continues to embark on projects which will exacerbate the issue. We need everyone, now, to come together to recognise the urgency of the issue and act to make the changes we desperately need,” she said.

Surgical masks

Also over the weekend, Gary Stokes of NGO Oceans Asia shared photos of surgical masks that had washed ashore on the remote Soko Islands.

Gary Stokes. Photo: Naomi Brannan.

The NGO is currently undertaking a year-long study of microplastics and marine debris. Stokes said that, during a survey trip at their research site, team members noted surgical masks had been washing ashore in large numbers. “In Hong Kong, we have already seen our nature trails getting trashed by masks, however to now know that something introduced en masse to a population, takes just 6 weeks to arrive on our beaches. This highlights we have a serious waste management system [problem], both in Hong Kong & China,” he wrote on Facebook.

Hongkongers have been battling to purchase disposable face masks in light of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected almost 100 people around the city.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.