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Nation delivers climate message loud and clear

By Hou Liqiang in Dubai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-14 07:16
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Lai Yourui, a school student from Jiangsu province, delivers a speech at a side event to COP28. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Students and entrepreneurs state their views at COP28

Lai Yourui, an 8-year-old student from Kunshan, Jiangsu province, felt a little lonely when he took part in the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP28.

However, he thoroughly enjoyed attending the sessions, where he learned a lot and visited the pavilions of different nations.

Despite nearly 100,000 people registering for the annual UN gathering, held this year in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, from Nov 30 to Wednesday, Lai failed to find any children as young as himself among them.

He was frequently greeted warmly by COP28 delegates from around the world, who expressed a high degree of curiosity about his nationality and age.

Many of those who greeted the boy asked to take a photo with him. They also asked him to teach them to say "How are you?" in Chinese.

As probably the youngest person from China attending the gathering, Lai is just one example of the nation's increasing awareness of the need to tackle climate change and protect the environment.

Lai insists on going to school by bike, accompanied by his mother — a journey that usually takes about 20 minutes. When it is raining heavily, his mother sends him to school on an electric bicycle.

The family seldom orders takeout food, as this will result in polluting plastic waste. "Energy is also consumed as deliverymen bring customers takeouts," Lai said, adding that this energy may not be green.

On Friday, at a side event to COP28, he delivered a speech in English themed on the Yangtze River, which he referred to as the father river of the Chinese nation.

In addition to expressing concerns over the loss of habitat for the Yangtze alligator, he shared with listeners from around the world actions taken by the Chinese government to protect the creatures.

The species, which is endemic to China, has become critically endangered due to human activities and climate change.

A special conservation area has been built just for the Yangtze alligators, Lai said.

He also listed some of the "small things "he and his classmates have done to help protect the Yangtze and the alligators, such as reducing the discharge of domestic sewage and minimizing the use of laundry supplies.

"Let's all do our part to protect the environment and biodiversity for future generations," he said.

Lai was not the only junior COP28 attendee from China — one of the other examples being Ma Yiyuan from Beijing No 18 High School, who is 17.

Traveling to Dubai for COP28 was not easy for Ma, who is in her last year at high school.

At her school, she heads an environmental protection organization called Lyuyin, which translates as "green shade".

On Nov 30, Ma attended the China pavilion at COP28, where she described how she and other members of the organization promote a low-carbon lifestyle on campus.

For example, they designed a facility to help blind people find the right trash bin to dump their well-sorted waste.

Ma flew back to China the next day to take an art college admissions test on Dec 7. Five days later, she sat the English listening and speaking tests for college admission.

Apart from listening to people from different countries, and seeing how they conduct environmental protection work, she said, "I want to tell the world that we are also taking action in this regard."

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