Hong Kong students marched through the rain on Sunday as they renewed their calls for more government action to tackle the climate crisis.
Among their demands were for authorities to declare an environmental and climate emergency, and pledge to increase their use of renewable energy sources.
The rally is the second of its kind to be held after young environmentalists skipped school in March as part of the global student-led movement #FridaysForFuture.
The campaign was inspired by then 15-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who staged a school strike outside the parliament in Stockholm last August over the climate crisis. She has since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
As protesters set off from Wan Chai for the Central Government Offices in Admiralty, they shouted: “Seas are rising, so are we.” Others held signs reading “Save our planet” and “Don’t be a fossil fool.”
The weather took a sharp turn shortly after marchers set off as a rainstorm began to beat down.
Organisers and police estimated around 250 people turned out, fewer than the previous march which student leaders said was attended by around 1,000.
Both protests were largely attended by students from international schools, though organisers said they tried to engage local students.
Co-organiser Themis Kung, 17, told HKFP that Sunday’s protest was held on a weekend to accommodate local students studying for exams: “By including more locals in Hong Kong it will show the government that it’s not just a movement started by international kids,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Ewan Windebank, an organiser, told HKFP he wanted to bridge the divide between schools: “Hopefully, through our marches, we will slowly reach into that gap and get to the local students and I believe we can do that through our constant efforts,” he said.
Louis Effran, who goes to an international school, told HKFP he had to call his principal to attend the march. “I was one of the only [students] from my school who left,” he said. “I had to actually fight against all my teachers to get over here but I think it was worth it.”
Arya Idan Cummings, who attends the same school, also HKFP that the city should be shouldering its weight to tackle global heating. “The environment is something that I think everyone should care [about],” she said. “I think Hong Kong as such a financial centre should be taking the initiative.”
In 2017, the government promised to reduce the city’s carbon intensity by 65 to 70 per cent by 2030, in its Hong Kong Climate Action Plan 2030+, although environmentalists have criticised the pledge as disappointing.
Earlier this month, the UK and Ireland became the first two countries to declare climate emergencies.
“MPs have passed a motion making the UK parliament the first in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency”.
Historic and very hopeful news. Now other nations must follow. And words must turn into immediate action. #ClimateBreakdown https://t.co/9CUv7jt0gm
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) May 1, 2019
Though it has no strict definition, the move puts the environment and climate at the heart of government policy.
The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.