Bridging Knowledge: How FON and Zhang Lei Are Educating Youth on Climate Change

  • Home
  • >
  • Features
  • >
  • Bridging Knowledge: How FON and Zhang Lei Are Educating Youth on Climate Change

Friends of Nature (FON), founded in 1993, is one of the earliest non-governmental environmental protection organizations in China. Since its establishment, FON has focused on developing Chinese civil society, especially citizen participation in climate issues.

In 2021, FON launched the Ling-Long Project to support Chinese citizens in climate action, with four phases carried out so far. During these phases, FON selected 125 citizen climate activists from 950 applicants and provided empowerment training to 70 of them to help them carry out climate actions in various fields.

One of these climate activists, Zhang Lei, participated in the fourth Ling-Long Project in 2023. She received RMB 11,900 in funding to translate a French environmental science book into Mandarin and publish it for Chinese readers. The book, titled “10 Misconceptions about the Climate,” is a popular science comic aimed at teenagers.

CDB attended the book signing event in Beijing and spoke with Zhang Lei. The event, held on May 18th at the Xicheng District Children’s Library, featured climate experts and dozens of primary and secondary school students.

Chen Ying, deputy director of the Center for Sustainable Development Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, opened the event with a lecture on climate science, explaining climate change and the importance of carbon emission reduction to young readers.

Following the lecture, Zhang Lei introduced her translated book, describing it as a humorous and detailed exploration of complex climate issues. The book addresses the ten most common misunderstandings about climate change and provides actionable guidance for readers to contribute to climate protection. It encourages everyone to take steps in their daily lives to help China achieve its “dual carbon” goals.

Children at the event also expressed their concerns about climate change. Additionally, the community NGO Peiyuan Xuetang organized an interactive climate-themed board game called “Climate Fresk.” This activity aimed to raise environmental awareness and promote low-carbon lifestyles among the participants. All participants received a signed copy of the book.

After the event, CDB interviewed Zhang Lei. The details of interviewing Zhang Lei, please read the followings:

Question: Please tell us about yourself and your project.

Zhang Lei:
I am a book editor, and my project, supported by the Ling-Long Project, focuses on climate science popularization and communication. It involves three stages: translation, publishing, and promotion. The goal is to translate, publish, and promote a popular science comic book for teenagers imported from France, titled “10 Misconceptions about Climate Change” (original name: “10 idées reçues sur le climat”).

This book is aimed at Chinese teenagers aged 8 and above. Through humorous and lively comics, it helps young people understand climate change, corrects their misunderstandings, and encourages them to reflect on their lifestyles and start their own climate actions.


Question: As a book editor, you must always think about sales. How did you focus on a topic like climate change that is not easy to sell?

Zhang Lei:

In college, I loved shopping and felt that new clothes boosted my confidence. This lifestyle continued for a long time after I started working, without realizing the environmental impact of the fashion industry or understanding climate change.

About five or six years ago, I came across a zero-waste community and watched environmental documentaries. I realized the connection between lifestyle choices and the environment, and finally understood carbon emissions and climate change. I started thinking about what I could do for the environment and climate. As a children’s book editor, I thought I could contribute through book publishing.

Question: What is the current market situation for publishing a children’s book about climate in China?

Zhang Lei:
Chinese youth are generally indifferent and unfamiliar with climate change and lack basic knowledge. Popular science books on climate themes are not widely recognized. Few climate-themed children’s books have significant sales on major e-commerce platforms. The few that do are often older publications with low average annual sales.

The main response to climate issues in China is more academic and governmental, rather than public and youth-focused. This weak market performance discourages publishers and investors, leading to a lack of books in this field.


Question: How has FON’s Ling-Long Project helped your climate action?

Zhang Lei:
In the past, I only translated simple picture books. This comic book is more complex and based on IPCC content. The French authors are climatologists, which made me nervous about translating it. However, the professional courses of the Ling-Long Project helped me build a knowledge framework about climate change.

Publishing also needs to fit the national context. The book, originally French, needed to be adapted for Chinese readers. The Ling-Long Project allowed me to meet climate experts and communicators, whose insights helped me adapt the book appropriately.

The literal translation was not difficult, but choosing the right Chinese terms for professional jargon was challenging. The Ling-Long Project’s courses covered these terms, making my work easier.

While climate change is a niche topic in China, the encouragement from Ling-Long Project partners convinced me that the book would find its readers and strengthened my determination to publish it.

In closing, what would you like to say to CDB’s readers?

Zhang Lei:
You can find this book on,, and other platforms. I hope more people read it, benefit from it, and adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

In Brief

Table of Contents