Saving the Planet

The little prince of nature
As a child, Italian Elias Mele began his life-long love affair with nature, playing with small creatures in the fields and forests in Siena, Tuscany where he grew up.  “I would care for any kind of creatures. I even fought with other children when they tried to hurt a worm,” he recalls.  He was introduced to nature by his parents, who often took him to hike in beautiful mountains and taught him to respect animals. 

Today his dream is to “save the planet” where environmental damages have reached alarming levels.  “I want to be a professor in climate change policy,” says the 29-year-old. 

The modern Marco Polo
To realise his dream, Mele, now a PhD student at The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), will start a first-of-its kind study on how people should reduce their emissions that are creating climate change and global warming.  Under his research dissertation, Personalizing Greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme: ethical and practical considerations for China and the World, he designs a system and laws to cut  personal emissions. “For example, when people buy a product, they need to pay a tax for the emissions created by the product with a card like the Octopus,” he says.  Each person is allocated an annual greenhouse gas emission quota.  Those who emit more emissions than the limit have to buy quota from others who emit less, or reduce their future emissions by “driving less, walking more, or using more solar energy”, he says. Who pollutes more has to pay more, who pollutes less is rewarded.

His commitment to the preservation of the environment was sparked off by his six-month internship in the European Parliament he took in 2008 in Brussels, while studying his Master in European Studies at the University of Siena.  “I was an assistant to two politicians who were interested in environmental protection.  I had to prepare draft proposals to change legislation in EU to reduce green house gases in the atmosphere, and represent them in environment conferences.”

After graduating in 2009, he joined pressure group, CIPI (Centro Italiano Prospettiva Internazionale) Foundation, to lobby actions and study EU and international environmental and energy regulatory frameworks. In 2010, he became a teaching assistant working in areas of sustainable climate change politics in the University of Siena.  Last year, he decided to leave Europe for Hong Kong to study for a PhD in environmental and climate change politics. “After the Europe credit crunch, there are less funding for environmental research, and there will be much less opportunities,” Mele says.  Last June, he came to HKIEd to study under the tutelage of renowned scholar in environmental research – Professor Paul Harris, Chair Professor of Global and Environmental Studies who has published widely on climate policy and justice.  "Professor Paul Harris is one of the best in this area.  I have learnt a lot from him,” says Mele.

His dreams
By doing researches in this region, he aims to help reduce China’s growing environmental problems.  “China is the world largest source of pollution.”  Its massive pollutions, he says, were caused by its huge population and by the fact that many developed countries have shifted their productions to China, making it “the factory of the world”.  Mele also blames the life styles of many affluent Chinese, who have adopted what he called “frivolous and unnecessary” consumption patterns, typical of many Americans, or at least as it appears.  After completing his three-year study, he hopes to teach in HKIEd.   “I know that the Institute’s vision is to become a university, and I want to be an active part of its aspiration,” he says with a smile.


Elias defending every biological life.



Photo taken from European Union.



The Panel of Hong Kong conference on waste management.



"Bella famiglia"