On November 21, Oxfam Hong Kong held a climate change workshop called “A Cloud on the Horizon” in North Point.
Participants were asked to act as representatives from different countries who took part in the COP21 (21st Paris Climate Conference) from November 30 to December 11. The countries in the mock conference were China, America, Norway, Philippines, Kenya and Tuvalu.
In the workshop, I represented Norway. I was responsible for responding to the accusations of other countries, who said we were one of the main culprits behind climate change. Frankly, my teammates and I did a pretty good job defending our country, although we felt a bit bad about blaming the developing countries – namely Tuvalu for not contributing to the fund that was organised to fight climate change.
The representative for Philippines, Peter Chan, said that representatives of countries were rather persistent with their ideas and were selfish towards other countries’ needs. Chan said that citizens from countries were unable to look at the bigger picture and deem themselves as global citizens. Another representative from Norway, Simon Wu, discovered that it was quite hard for countries to reach a consensus in these conferences as most were unwilling to take the blame for their actions and compromise on their lifestyle to help the world.
We also put ourselves in the shoes of the protesters from different organisations and small groups, e.g. Greenpeace. We were asked to create catchy slogans to bring awareness to the issue of climate injustice. The demonstrations from these groups were supposed to draw attention to the issue, but Wu didn’t think they were effective when it came to pushing countries to reach an agreement.
In an imitation of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, for three hours, students got to choose the country they wanted to represent from China, US, Norway, Kenya or The Philippines. This workshop allowed students to explore what they can’t learn through textbooks, thus hopefully changing their attitudes towards global climate change.
“Students normally don’t understand the full meaning behind the text at school. These workshops give them a chance to put themselves in others’ shoes and to think broader. They are expressing themselves as well as learning about what’s happening in the world,” said Mr Tang Chi-wai, the geography teacher at Sheng Kung Hui Tsoi Kung Po Secondary School.
The final presentation of the day emphasised “Climate Justice” - how global warming affects the environmental destruction that disproportionately impacts low income communities and ethnic minorities, giving rise to the environmental justice movement.
So how well do you think you know global warming?
On November 21, 20 students and teachers from Sheng Kung Hui Tsoi Kung Po Secondary School gathered in Oxfam’s Interactive Education Centre to participate in a workshop called “A Cloud on the Horizon”, not just to learn about climate change, but to learn more about the world.
The workshop focused on “climate justice”. We listened to a recording of Tuvalu citizens’ cry for help, and a Tuvalu representative (played by an Oxfam member of staff) speaking about her country’s uncertain future, it really made us all stop and think. Tuvalu, a developing country, is by no means one of the world’s worst polluters, yet she bears the brunt of the problem because the island is only 4.6 metres above sea level. Rising sea levels due to the climate change puts Tuvalu into the very real danger of disappearing completely underwater.
Although Tuvalu is crying out for emergency aid, we discovered that only a few people at the workshop even knew about the issue. “I didn’t think climate change would bring such big changes to the world,” Simon Wu, a Form Four student, confessed. “So little did I realised some countries could actually disappear because of global warming.”
Some students expressed concerns about the imminent danger Tuvalu is facing. “We are not fair to them,” said Liu Ting-ting, a Form Four student. “They are vulnerable”.
The participants made promises to reduce carbon emission to try and curb climate change. With everyone’s efforts, they believe they can play a part in saving the planet’s future.