Transforming into a clean energy city doesn’t just mean having a symbolic presence of electric buses on the roads. The director of the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, Mr Nikhil Seth, suggested that a fundamental energy system reform is required. From the beginning, where energy is generated, to the end, where it is consumed, the whole process will rely on mass mobilization of citizens and deep public-private cooperation. The Times spoke with the specialist yesterday on his plans to transition Macau on a sustainable energy pathway.
Macau Daily Times – What can Macau do to work to the global trend towards sustainable energy?
Nikhil Seth – A forum like this can push the world by setting examples as to how we make the transition to sustainable energy. If you look at Macau, there are many issues in which energy comes up. They are in transport; they are in the building construction seen around us. So it’s very important that high standards are set by Macau in the area of sustainable transportation and sustainable construction. And here we need a lot of actions on different fuels, on electric mobility, on the kind of public transportation systems. But much more needs to be done in the area of sustainable transport: lower emissions, to make transport affordable and efficient. Because you get a lot of tourists, everyone looks to Macau to set standards and examples. So in all the areas I mentioned, Macau has a lot to demonstrate to the world as what it can do to make clean energy a reality.
MDT – What are Macau’s advantages in building a sustainable energy society?
NS – Macau is a very energy-intensive society. And it’s clear that a place like Macau will be able to do this much more effectively than bigger parts of the world. In mainland China, there are massive struggles against poverty and for energy access. But Macau doesn’t have those kinds of problems. So it’s very important that the regulatory frameworks which are established for Macau, the types of things in changing people’s mindset, all should be part of the regulatory frameworks if you want Macau to become a model for the use of sustainable energy.
MDT – What is the fundamental barrier that is stopping the city’s transformation?
NS – Cost deference has come down a lot, so cost is not the main barrier to the adoption of renewable energy. But you have got to change the minds of the policy-makers and make the people want this change. Then all the other barriers become easy to surmount. You need a change in people’s mindset before you have revolution in energy. Education is all it takes to have the revolution in people’s mindset. But in order to change that you have to also revolutionize the market; you have to have the right regulatory frameworks; you need the right incentives for people to adopt new technologies and clean energy.
MDT – Which group should take the initiative to make this transformation? The government, the general public or the casino operators?
NS – The transition to energy sustainability has to be a partnership; it cannot be achieved by one agency or one local authority by itself. It has to be a partnership that involves firstly the citizens, the municipality, and the private sector. The key to the transformation has always been this concept of partnerships. If we build this partnership, use all the tools we have to build this transformation, only then we’ll see the change in history which will move Macau to a sustainable energy pathway. Once the concerns of the citizens are articulated sharply, the government policy, regulation and the private sector, schools, education system, the media… everyone will become party to this experiment in creating clean growth. That’s how the transition will come.