TEDxENCOMPASSHK- How far can you go for climate change?
2020 has been one of the hottest years in history. Many of us, who spent the year confined and socially distant, couldn’t tell the difference. However, the rapid ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland and the catastrophic fires which raged in Australia and California prove that the world around us is very much impacted by the relentlessly warming earth. As signatories of the Paris Agreement strive to cap greenhouse gas emissions, their efforts are met by an equally resilient force under the apt name Countdown. Countdown is a global movement to spearhead and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, transforming ideas into action. The goal? To make a leap towards a zero-carbon world which is safer, cleaner and fairer for everyone by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
TEDxEncompassHK joined the Countdown, holding a live streamed Event on 18 October 2020 for which 550 people registered . A mere two days later, the Event had over 100 000 views on Yahoo TV and it has been viewed by over 3200 people on Facebook. The Event was generously sponsored by the US Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau, Trailwatch, Green Monday, Explorium Hong Kong, SparknShop and Ekologic, to name a few, and it drew in support from, inter alia, the WWF, Plastic-free Seas, HKU’s Common Core, HKUST, Lingnan University and Asian Charity Services. Led by Benita Chick, the Founder and CEO of Encompass HK, a HK-based social enterprise which promotes the Sustainable Development Goals, the Event touched on 5 fields where radical change will make the most difference: Energy, Transport, Materials, Food and Nature. Transitioning to clean energy, upgrading to carbon-zero transport, reimagining how we use the materials around us, shifting to healthier food systems and rejuvenating nature will make the difference needed to half greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years.
The speakers invited to TEDxEncompassHK shared diverse, impactful ideas addressing issues at the root of Climate Change. The Former Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, LAM Chiu-ying, graced the Event, speaking on how Hong Kong, a city producing four times as much carbon as it should by proportion, can stop burning carbon-based fossil fuels by 2050. A much younger speaker, 15-year-old Kamakshi Bhavnani, Founder of Youth Ocean Alliance Youth Ocean Alliance, complimented Lam’s message, emphasising how Passion, Purpose and Pursuit can fix us on the path of Climate change activism. Arnett Edwards is cultivating the next generation of environmentally-conscious changemakers at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, where he is Principal. The College already has its own solar power system project, which has raised almost HKD 2 million in funds for its scholarship programme, proving that environmental sensitivity is not only life-preserving but remunerative. Prof. Mark A. McGinley, Head of the Science Unit at Lingnan University’s speech was titled: ‘Climate Change Response: What Can We Learn From the COVID-19 Pandemic?’ and it drew on the notable similarities between the response to the pandemic and the efforts to combat climate change. In places where the former hit hardest, there was the same unpreparedness, and devil-may-care reaction which we often see to climate change. Only once we understand why we responded so poorly can we rise to meet the tasks before us.
On the subject of transforming how we use materials around us, Ricci Wong, Founder of HK Timberbank and RAAW Limited, spoke on how using local timber cut down because of typhoons or Urban development will fell our furniture and timber imports, reconnecting us with our natural resources. JupYeah Co-Founder, Ren Wan, brought the conversation to our wardrobes, warning that our fondness of fast fashion and cheap shoes is at the heart of the Fashion World- the second most polluting industry in the world! We all caught a laugh during Jimmy Wu’s session. The Certified Laughter Yoga Leader revved up the audience with a hilarious, engaging session when we took away tips on generating lasting happiness, even in trying times. Next, Assistant Research Professor at the University of Hong Kong , Dr. Joanne Yeung, took us on the journey of a piece of microplastic. Once hailed as the be-all end-all of household goods, clothing, personal care products and packaging, plastics now form a large part of the environmental impact discourse. The conversation on plastic was furthered by Devana Ng who co-founded of Distinctive Action and the #INVISIBLEBAG, a water-soluble, biodegradable alternative to traditional plastic packaging.
One area where the impacts of climate change speak for themselves is the destruction of coral reefs, which, come 2050, may no longer exist. Dr. David Baker, a Coral Reef Biologist, spoke on the steps we can take to use technology and entrepreneurship to bring new life to the oceanic ecosystem and save mangrove forests, seagrasses and fisheries. Andrew Tsui directed the conversation to food, urging us all to rethink our consumption behaviours and how they impact the environment. Andrew is the CEO & Co-Founder of Rooftop Republic Urban Farming, and revolutionized farming in urban cities like Hong Kong, making it possible to grow and harvest fresh produce from our rooftops. From how we care for our oceans to what we consume, the decisions we make about our lifestyles have tangible impacts on our surroundings, and it is time we started acting as such.
The energy of the four-hour Event remained upbeat, hosted and moderated by TV travel host- Chris Leung- whose engaging post-presentation Q&A sessions allowed online viewers to have their questions addressed and to learn yet more from TEDxEncompassHK’s speakers. Guest performer and LumiVoce founder, Dr. Ying-ying LIU, sang before a backdrop of the Amazon Rainforest- using song and vivid images of the environment to inspire conservation. Renowned Visual Facilitator, Amy Chan, took charge of the Event’s visual graphics, ensuring an optimum presentation for the speakers, and guaranteeing the best viewers-experience for those watching online. Special thanks go out to the Event’s Executive Producer-Cybil Shum, Lead Curator- Holly Chung, Partnership Director- Jenny Leung, Speaker’s Coaches- Joscelin Yeung and Olivia Tang, and to the rest of the organising team that made the Event possible.
Pictured, TEDxEncompass HK Organising Team
Ushering the sustainable development goals into our homes, Benita brought the Event to a close by giving useful tips on how we can make a difference- from flying less, and buying more durable clothes to eating more greens, and inviting our friends to do the same, we can all make lifestyle changes that will help in the fight to lower the Earth’s rising temperature. So join this global movement, and Countdown the greenhouse gas emissions. Go far for climate change.