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A farmer in Ningxia Province gets water from a deep well in what used to be the Tengeli desert which has grown samller, due to antidesertification measuress climate change to drive global climate action: ‘People are really making the connection between our responses to the Covid pandemic, and to climate change. Both require international cooperation and good planning, and both have strong consequences for society. If civil society leaders use this rhetoric well in talks with political leaders, they might be able to push for stronger policies on climate change.’

Jiaxin believes that China, the European Union and the US could provide the leadership to motivate other countries to take climate action. ‘What is important is putting real policy and plans on the table. We need to create a competitive cycle and culture for countries to compete for more ambitious climate policies.’ Miao is confident international cooperation is heading in a positive direction and that young people have a role to play. ‘The younger generation considers themselves as global citizens,’ she says. They recognize that ‘climate change is a global issue that everyone should pay attention to’. Miao describes young people as a ‘superpower group’ for climate change. Making a case for why young people should use their careers to address climate change, Jiaxin says: ‘The job we choose to do and the company we choose to join is an important choice. We don’t all need to work for renewable energy companies or electrical car companies, just so long as the company is responsible and ethical, and committed to combating climate change.’

Echoing Jiaxin, Moonlight says that the young people who engage in MyH O’s talent development programme ‘might not go on to work in the environmental field or in public welfare, but they will still remember what they experienced with MyH O, and they will spread these ideas’.

Since – known as China’s ‘Year of Volunteering’ due to the ra l l y i ng e ff ect s o f the devastating Sichuan earthquake and the Beijing Olympics – more people have taken an interest in social issues. Charlene believes that we will see the results of this in the next two decades, as the younger generation grows up and produces more socially and globally aware leaders.

This trend is a motivating force to ‘keep raising the level of awareness, so that down the road, when harder decisions need to be made, this generation will be ready’. Emily Venturi is Schwarzman Academy Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House. Lucy Ridout is Programme Coordinator, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House


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