A 17-year-old girl in China was reportedly forced to suspend her studies as a result of her activism on climate change.
, who goes by the English name Howey, has engaged in protests initiated by Greta Thunberg
, becoming the first in her country to do so.
In December 2018, Ou suspended her studies at the Guangxi Normal University-affiliated high school in Guilin after being told that she was “not suitable” for the university’s international program.
As a result, Ou — who dreams of attending Harvard University — decided to study for the SAT and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) on her own.
According to Ou, her school principal, Li Linbo, informed her that she must end her activism as a condition for her readmission. Authorities also required the teenager to submit a psychological test, which she already took.
“The only negative thing it said was I’m stubborn,”
Ou told The Guardian
. She vowed to continue her activism, saying “I want more people to know.”
Authorities reportedly called Ou’s parents several times, urging them to convince her to stop. Her father said they would not force her to change her beliefs, but they have concerns about her future.
“She has anxiety about the climate,” he told The Guardian. “We hope that she can graduate from high school, enter university, and hope that she can pay less attention to climate change issues.”
China remains the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting
for about 30% of the global carbon dioxide output. While it has invested more than any other country in renewable energy, it also burns the most coal
, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
However, China maintains that it does its part in addressing climate change. Last Friday, it reiterated its commitment to the issue.
“China has been actively tackling climate change and implementing the Paris Agreement while fighting COVID-19 and promoting economic recovery,” said
Zhang Jun, permanent representative to the United Nations. “We pursue green development, put people first, and make every effort to address environmental issues to meet our people’s aspiration for a better life. China earnestly implements the basic state policy of resource conservation and environmental protection, and promote ecological progress to build a beautiful China.”
Ou’s future remains unclear. For now, she runs an initiative called Plant for Survival, which encourages the youth to plant more trees.