Environmental envoys

Kevin Kung

Teens are ready to spread the word after seeing the effects of climate change

Kevin Kung |

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(From left) Hong Kong's winning team receives an award from honorary adviser Fanny Law; all the students get together for a group photo; and the Indian students dress up for a cultural performance at a primary school in Jilin.
Climate change is one of the biggest concerns in the modern world. We always hear about ice sheets melting in the North and South Poles, and countries being badly hit by droughts and floods. But, besides the rise in temperature, our city has not been directly affected by global warming. A group of teenagers who went on an educational tour this summer has returned with lessons on how to combat it.

Four winning groups that competed in the Young Power Programme, organised by CLP and Junior Achievement Hong Kong, were selected to go on a 10-day environmental tour of Hong Kong, Beijing and Jilin .

This year's theme was KISS the World - Keep It Sustainable and Strong. Nearly 100 proposals were submitted by 475 students on how to get people to lead low-carbon lives; carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that can make climate change worse. The contestants used social networks such as Facebook to spread their message. The winning students were from Hong Kong, Nanning in Guangxi province and India.

On the first seven days of their tour, they visited alternative-energy sites and power plants run by CLP in Hong Kong and Beijing. They also went to Ocean Park, the Great Wall and other tourist attractions.

Young Post joined the group for its last site: a new wind farm in Jilin province. The journey wasn't easy. But despite a tiring four-hour car ride from the airport to Qianan city, the teens proved to be alert and active.

After the wind farm, they visited grasslands that had turned into a desert because of drought or improper farming, a process called desertification. They played games with children at a primary school sponsored by CLP, and they staged cultural performances.

Pankti Amit Bhatt, from Indian team Navsanchar, was excited that the children loved their dance.

The students also made good use of their time on long bus journeys.

"The Indian team taught us how to sing their songs, and we taught our traditional songs to them. We had a great time and sang together on the bus," says Mo Yanzhen, from Guangxi. Cathy Chan Shuk-ling, captain of Hong Kong's Diamond team, says the city's residents cannot rely only on renewable energy.

"I agree that we should have a higher percentage of energy generated from renewable sources. But first we, as consumers of the energy, should urge our citizens to avoid wasting energy and lower carbon emissions," says Cathy, a student at Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School. The Form Five student now plans to promote energy-saving at school.

"Jilin is facing desertification, and other places have different problems," she says. "All these troubles may be far away from our hometown, but we live in the same world. So it is going to affect us in the near future if we are not protecting the environment."

Fanny Law, honorary adviser of the Young Power Programme, hopes teenagers will understand the cost of damaging the environment.

"From the case of Jilin's desertification, we understand that we need to put in great effort to remedy the damage done to the environment by humans. I hope our students can learn a lesson from that," she says.

Watch out for more stories about Jilin's desertification and wind energy in China on Monday's green living pages

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