Small challenges make big impacts – though it sounds cliché, many things in life really work that way. When it comes to environmental protection, there are different ways and means but they all share the same goal – to create a sustainable future where everyone lives comfortably and happily. So, is protecting the environment really a difficult task to accomplish? How should every stakeholder, from individuals to corporations, take part in this lifelong ambition? Let’s hear what Lance Lau, our 12-year old climate activist, has to say.
Fears of changing vs Self-confidence
Speaking of changing, for a more sustainable world in particular, many would be skeptical about how influential and enduring changing their own lifestyles could be, instead of investing their energy on what and how they could contribute to make a difference. This is simply because making changes aren’t always easy and many of us are afraid of making changes.
Lance, however, sees it differently, “We shouldn’t underestimate ourselves! I’m just a teenage student and if I have ever doubted myself I wouldn’t be able to do what I’ve done so far, including gaining media coverage. Our mindset plays an important role in making changes. Do believe in ourselves. Under the new normal of COVID-19, you would be surprised how much we have changed unknowingly.”
The pandemic has made us all change. Things that we took for granted before the outbreak, from overseas travels to dining gathering, have become few and far between. Wearing masks every day and having travelling restrictions were not part of our lives pre-COVID days. But when change was the only option, we adapted and more focused. And, do we feel upset? Consider this - masks have evolved from a daily necessity to a playful fashion item, alongside staycation that has boosted local tourism industry. We are able to make live more interesting amidst the pandemic. More importantly, we find sheer happiness in simple things in the course of changing, such as having a meal with our family, watching a movie or going hiking.
To combat change, our mindset counts, not our habits. We have to believe we possess the power to accept and adapt to changes. In fact, what we do during the pandemic proves that anyone can against and live a sustainable life with happiness.
Sustainable future starts with awareness and constructive sharing
When we are ready to embrace change, the next question would be: how could we influence others to co-create a sustainable world? To Lance, there is no easy one-step solution. Making drastic changes to our lifestyles and habits come with great difficulties. “In some places, petrol cars will be totally replaced by electric cars by 2030. It could be more efficient to ban petrol cars immediately but the impact is just far too great to bear”, Lance said. Likewise, he would love to see speedy solutions for environmental protection, but raising awareness and persuading people to support that immediate actions are needed to act on global warming has to come first. Even if people we influence only take a small step forward, you’ll find that taking a few more steps is indeed not beyond our reach. When all these smalls steps are added up, the crisis would be more ‘curable’.
Therefore, the first thing that anyone can do to save the earth is to understand what Lance proposes and what crisis we are facing, and talk to people we know. The discussion may not have to include ‘remote’ issues such as the melting of the Arctic ice cap or the drowning of the Pacific Islands, but there are climate issues of more immediate concerns that require our prompt attention, namely experiencing very hot weather in May, more frequent red and black rain, storms leading to more floods. Once these topics are seeded firmly in society, the sphere of influence would be far greater than own imagination. This explains why Lance insists on taking them to the street.
Consume less starting from today
Apart from following climate change closely, we also have to take actions. The first step we can do, as Lance suggests, is to stop or do less of what goes against environmental protection in our daily lives.
For instance, it is a fact that beef emits the most greenhouse gases among all meats, and Hong Kong is the top beef importer of Brazil, accounting for 24% of the country’s total beef exports which is even 19% higher than Mainland China. The more cattle we raise, the more carbon dioxide is emitted, and the more forests are burnt to make way for grassland. Deforestation will lead to a reduction in photosynthesis, and with the recurrence of accidental bushfires, the catastrophic consequences would be dire. However, we can all contribute to mitigating this deadlock situation – simply consume less beef and dairy products, and don’t waste them!
Besides, we should refrain from using disposable products, like plastic cutlery and carrying bags, as they are hard to decompose. When we want to replace our existing cars that consume fossil fuel, consider electric cars. If feasible, we can also give up high-carbon emission air transport and rediscover the joy of railway travelling. In short, it’s not practical to quit or change what we have been doing for years overnight, but we should give it a second thought especially when shopping or consuming natural resources – do we really need it? This can already help ease the problem of climate warming.
Corporations join hands for a sustainable future
Lance believes corporations, especially multinational players, can also contribute. A simple decision or change, such as cutting down on paper consumption or speeding up e-commerce transformation, may influence millions of people. He also proposes that corporations can provide incentives to customers who support environmental protection or buy environmentally-friendly products, to persuade more leading companies to put in more resources in balancing business operation and environmental protection. A more aggressive suggestion to capture higher potential returns while contributing to saving the world is that corporations and investors can invest in companies who signed the ESG Coliation, or who focus on sustainable or renewable businesses.
All in all, we have to believe in our power to help mitigate climate change, be it an investment decision or the choice of food for dinner.
The above content is reviewed by Ms. Andrea Wong, Chief Marketing & Customer Officer of AXA Hong Kong and Macau
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