Event RecapBack
Before the Flood Screening and Discussion Session

Before the Flood is a documentary produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. It recorded what the Hollywood star saw and heard during his visit to various regions of the world in a bid to obtain first-hand information and personal experience of the impacts of climate change. COIL held a screening and discussion session at the Chiang Chen Studio Theatre, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on 13 January, attracting over 200 participants.


To make this film, United Nations Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio travelled to the poles and five continents. He talked to Pope Francis, former US President Barrack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Indian environmental activist Dr Sunita Narain, among others. The documentary brings up various issues such as disaster prevention, energy options, climate justice and conservation of the ecosystem. The discussion session that followed the screening was moderated by Mr Stephan Chan, a famous media host who harbours concern for climate change. Mr Chan once travelled to Iceland and Greenland for the filming of the documentary Vanishing Glacier to raise social awareness towards environmental protection. Special guests who attended the sharing session included Dr Eddy Lee Wai-choi , Co-founder of 350HK; Mr Alan Cheung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum and Mr Chong Chan Yau, Co-founder and Advisor of CarbonCare InnoLab. Through this event, we hope the audience would reflect on man’s relationship with climate change, and take practical actions to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

At the discussion session, Mr Stephen Chan said he was particularly impressed by the fiery exchanges between Dr Narain and DiCaprio. Dr Sunita Narain pointed out that about 300 million households in India are without electricity supply and electricity consumed by one American at home is equivalent to 34 of India. And yet the US is asking India to reduce the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation. This is being unfair, as the Americans are actually asking others to do something they cannot do themselves. Mr Chong Chan Yau also recalled the scene about Kiribati, an island state in the Pacific Ocean. The Kiribati Government foresees that their land would be lost to rising sea levels due to worsening climate change. Thus, they have arranged with their neighbouring country Fiji to arrange for the relocation of 100,000 people from Kiribati to Fiji. From this case, we can see that developing countries are the least responsible for carbon emissions and yet they are bearing the most serious consequences. This leads to the crucial question of climate justice. 


350HK, an NGO co-founded by Dr Eddy Li, organised a Climate March in Hong Kong in 2015 to support the Paris Climate Conference. Despite huge promotion efforts, only about 600 people took part in the march. Dr Li said that one may doubt the effectiveness of Hong Kong, being such a small city, in making a difference for carbon reduction. What we should not forget is that Hong Kong’s per capita carbon emissions is more than 6 tonnes, higher than the world’s average. Although small in geographical size, Hong Kong is a prosperous city with a GDP also higher than the world average. A worthy cause is not judged by its scale. Hong Kong has the responsibility and the ability to make an impact! Mr Chong also believed that there are many ways for the citizens of Hong Kong to make a contribution, such as changing their diet and consumption habits, spreading environmental messages to tourists or even strengthening cooperation with Mainland China in the development of renewable energy.


Our special guests also discussed the feasibility of carbon tax. Mr Alan Cheung considered it a good method but worried that companies might transfer the extra cost to the public at large. To him, the root of the problem is capitalism and corporate monopoly. He hopes that companies can change their values and place stakeholder interest on par with company benefits. The government should also strengthen its cooperation with the business sector, so that all sectors of the society can play a role.



The production of goods and commodities consumes a large amount of energy and may also cause pollution to the environment. Industrialists, therefore, are often blamed for ‘causing climate change’. When asked for his views, Mr Alan Cheung, who runs a business in the apparel industry, said that industrialists could choose a more sustainable way of manufacturing their goods. Using his factory as an example, only those dyeing and treatment factories with a proper license in environmental operation would be selected as its business partners. Exhaust gas released from his factories would be degreased and food waste would be packed and turned to fertilizers. With this thought in mind, Mr Cheung began his social innovation ventures and has worked with various social enterprises and NGOs. Through the various projects that motivate and support those who are keen on social innovation, Mr Cheung hoped that the demands of our society could be met. To him, the concept of “maximizing profit” should be redefined in non-monetary terms. The interest of each and every stakeholder should also be taken into account.



To substantiate this, Mr Chong reminded us of the success story of Marks and Spencer. The company has increased its earnings after adopting more environmentally friendly ways of production, probably because Western consumers tend to be more supportive of green brands. Hong Kong consumers could exercise the same influence. For instance, a participant supported by CarbonCare Open Innovation Lab established her Fashion Clinic last year with an aim to upcycle old clothing and reduce the volume of discarded garments.


Before the event ended, Mr Chong introduced JC COIL Cycle 4 to the audience, calling for applications from those having a good idea for carbon reduction and hoping to gain professional training and kick-start funding. Coaches from the professional coaching team Good4U also explained the incubation process of the COIL programme. We sincerely hope that this event has inspired our audience and more people will take concrete actions to tackle the climate challenge.