How green is Macau?

Thursday, September 30, 2010
Issue 1128, Page 2
Word count: 638
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Most people are aware that environmental conservation is nowadays one of the major global issues. Many nations are also trying to or have already come up with some strategies or policies to reduce pollution and emissions and also be part of the driving force in the ongoing effort to slow down climate change.

But how about Macau?

If I’ve to name three measures that the Macau Government has implemented to preserve our environment, probably there are more than three but I doubt how many of them are heavy-handed. I believe environmental conservation is not simply an issue but is also a major challenge for the world, especially the fast-growing countries or regions like Macau where economic development is always the top priority.

For centuries human beings have relied heavily on technologies and we seem to have forgotten that natural resources are actually scarce and limited, since all the inventions and products have made our lives so much easier. But is convenience worth the cost to the environment? Heavy-handed measures are therefore needed in order to truly change people’s deeply-rooted mindsets and habits.

In recent years Macau has started to talk more about environmental protection. The Macau Government Tourist Office has recently said that Macau has to develop low carbon tourism, the Transport Bureau has been encouraging the use of public transportation, and the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) has also claimed that it has been promoting waste separation and recycling in the territory.

But are these enough to turn Macau into a green city?

Needless to say I’m sure almost every of the local residents, if not tourists, have had some “unforgettable” bus experiences in Macau. I’ve started to understand why so many people prefer driving rather than catching buses to go around the city, despite finding a (legal) parking space is not that easy either.

The bus stop closest to my home that I usually go to catch the bus to work serves No. 7, 8 and 7A. I can take any of them to get to my office area but sadly it doesn’t mean that it’s an advantage for me.

The buses, especially No. 8 and 7, are always (I mean always!) so packed and sometimes I needed to stand on the doorsteps or couldn’t even get on the bus – despite there is usually so much space for standing near the exit door.

To make it worse, the buses take forever to come and when one of them comes, the other two also arrive seconds after. Passengers get even more outraged when they see two buses, of the same number, came together. This has happened for quite a few times. Imagine when the passengers are packed like sardines on a bus, then they see more bus of the same number with barely passengers passing on the road. How could people not be complaining?

The bus fares have been increased but did we see any significant improvement in the bus operations? If not then how can the Government convince the locals to use public transportation?

Moreover, I always feel so guilty to throw away used batteries, which are extremely harmful to our environment. I’m sure the Environmental Protection Bureau and the IACM realised that but why cannot something be done? If Macau doesn’t have the technology to treat waste batteries, is it possible to export them to a neighbouring city such as Shenzhen where such a treatment plant is available?

Also, apart from putting more recycling bins on the streets, what has actually been done to promote waste separation and recycling in the public? If people don’t have such habit, it’s pointless even if there is a recycling bin in front of them.

Our Government has the financial resources and should know what the problems are, so what’s missing to make Macau more environmentally friendly?

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