Climate change strike: Hong Kong students skip school to protest against government inaction


Despite receiving last-minute a letter of no objection from the police, only around 20 students participated in the event inspired by Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future movement

Rhea MogulJoanne Ma |

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Students skipped school today to march to the government offices to demand stronger action against climate change.

About 20 school students skipped school in Hong Kong on Friday morning to protest against the government's inaction regarding the climate crisis. 

Climate Action Hong Kong, a student-run environmental group, organised a school strike in conjunction with the global #FridaysforFuture movement, which was inspired by the teen Swedish acitivist, Greta Thunberg. 

The students, together with about 30 other people - including activists from three other environmental groups - gathered at Chater Garden in Central at 11am, before marching to the Central Government Offices (CGO), where they held a rally and gave speeches to raise awareness and create a sense of urgency about the cause. 

"I'm here because I want to demand world leaders act now and start listening to us," said Aya Skye Walker, 15, from YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College.

"I don't think [the government] is doing enough to listen," she added. "They haven't really wanted to sit down with us and have a proper dialogue." 

The turnout was much lower compared to the first climate strike organised by the group back in March, which saw almost 1,000 people take to the streets. 

Greta Thunberg inspired young Hongkongers to take up the climate change cause

"One of the main reasons for the low turnout is because we didn't receive a letter of no objection until two days ago," said 17-year-old student organiser Ewan Windebank. 

The Rosaryhill School student added that the current political situation may have deterred students from skipping school, and parents from allowing them to do so. 

"I would have skipped school even if we didn't receive the letter," he said. "We're here to make a statement regardless." 

About 20 students attended the climate change strike, inspired by teen Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg.
Photo: Joanne Ma/SCMP

Percy Tse, a 15-year-old student from Po Leung Kuk No.1 W. H. Cheung College was the only one present from his school. 

"After submitting my homework this morning, I came straight here," he said. “In our school, not a lot of people are aware of the climate crisis. Most of them are very into the current ongoing anti-government protests, yet they can’t see that this issue is an existential crisis.”

He added that he thought the government was too focused on economic development and had been neglecting the environment. "An example of this is the Lantau Tomorrow Vision," he said. The project, which includes the construction of artificial islands, was introduced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor during her 2018 Policy Address, and sparked some backlash. 

Tackling climate change: how Hong Kong students plan to reduce their carbon footprint

Students marched through the Central business district, while chanting slogans like "We want Climate Action!" and "The seas are rising, and so are we!" in both English and Cantonese.

Eleven students gave speeches outside the CGO, before officially ending the rally at around 1.30pm. 

"I think we need to remind everyone that we can make a change," said Aya. "Start by thinking about where you buy your food and clothes, and support local farming businesses. Little steps can make a big difference."