On the first Friday since primary school reopened after 4 months of COVID-19 closure, a Hong Kong teenager Lance Lau was back in his weekly climate action at school in the morning. Inspired by the Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who initiated #FridaysForFuture movement in 2018, the 11-year-old Lance has entered the 40th week of climate action at school in June 2020.
Stepping out from classroom, and comfort zone
On March 15th 2019, Hong Kong students joined the global movement of #FridayForFuture, marched to government headquarters from Charter Garden, and submitted a climate manifesto to the officials. Greenpeace was there and supported the event with solidarity.
Inspired by the global movement, Lance decided to jump on do something himself. “The first time I took action,” Lance said, “I just DIY a simple banner out of cardboard and paper, write down ‘Climate Change’, then step out from the classroom and start walking around in school.” And what happened next? “Being stopped by a teacher soon after!” He chuckled.
Lance is determined to act for climate, he decided to go around concerns of disrupting activities in schools and started his own #FridayForFuture September last year. He arrives school 1 hour earlier every Friday since then and grasps the chance to directly communicate to students and parents while they are coming to school.
“People think I am crazy in the first place, but after a few weeks, they know I am serious. They start to pay attention to what I am talking about. I am delighted that my friends are joining me too. I would say I have ‘influenced’ them to act for the climate.” Lance further shared with Greenpeace that even teachers and headmaster of his school are very supportive of his action.
From sharing to taking action
The issue of Climate Change is complex and broad. How to articulate it while making it relevant and interesting to the public? Lance has his tactic: timely. Every Friday, Lance brings out current news around the world to demonstrate how climate change is now a climate crisis, say talking about Australia forest fires back in last winter, and shift to the impact of extreme weather or heatwave now as the weather is getting hot.
“People think COVID-19 is disastrous, but to me, it will fade away one day. It is not irreversible like Climate Change. If an iceberg melted, sea level went up, you cannot ‘undo’ it. There is no going back.”
While Lance is persistently spreading the message of climate emergency week after week, a new objective emerged naturally in his mind. He wants to take real action in his community, Tung Chung. Therefore, he starts writing ‘Green Letter’ to the management office of housing estates and the district council, to advocate for more green facilities such as solar panels, food waste composting facilities, better bicycle track, etc. Lance also determined to push corporations, restaurants to cut down single-use plastic.
“Now I am just on my own, and my opinion may be perceived as a minority. That is why I am launching a petition too. I need to demonstrate that it is the demand of the majority,” Lance said.
Lance is proactively looking for chances to engage the public, he will now go to the nearby shopping mall once to twice a week with his mom, not for shopping, but to speak to people in the community hoping to build up a bigger power base for change.
Although a positive correlation between “taking action” and “campaign success” is not always guaranteed, Lance determined that it is the right way to go. “I do believe that if we are persistent enough, we keep on pushing and pushing, we can see the impact in the end!” Lance said.
Joining force with Greenpeace
Lance strongly believes that every single action matters, and this is what drives his climate action. “If everyone is willing to take his banner and stand up for the climate in his school or company, it will be impactful. You just need to do it for 10 minutes a day, or an hour or so per week. That is how I start, and people are listening to me. I do believe that if we act together, either online or offline, we will be influencing more people to act with us.”
Greenpeace is also keen on collaborating with activists to set a public agenda of climate emergency in the community and the district council. Going forward, Lance and Greenpeace will be “climate action partners”.
“I observed that foreigners in Hong Kong are more active in taking action to save the climate than the locals. Take Climate Protest 2019 as an example, I just saw a few local faces among a thousand of protesters. On the other hand, the contents of the international climate movement are mostly in English too. I wish to create more Chinese content and raise awareness of the locals,” Lance said.
Lance has signed the ‘Climate Declaration’ with Greenpeace on June 19th, together with district councillors Lee Ka-ho (Islands District), Cheung Kwok-cheong (Eastern District), and Debby Chan Ka-lam (Sai Kung), they pledged to joint force for further climate action. Please stay tuned for more ‘Lance X Greenpeace events’ on our official platforms!
About “Let’s Talk about Climate Change” series
Climate change is not only here, but it has also evolved to “Climate Emergency”. As global citizens, we should not ignore the crisis we are in. Yet sometimes if not all, we might feel the issue is too big for us or too far away. We are inviting people in our local community, from all walks of life, to share with us how they connect to and make the effort to deal with climate change. Read More