Dozens of people gathered at the Central harbourfront on Friday in solidarity with protests across the globe demanding immediate action against climate change – but here, teenagers were largely absent from the student-led campaign.

A student group that organised two previous student strikes over the same issue in March and May that attracted hundreds of participants, decided against joining the latest action, citing safety concerns.

In a Facebook post, Climate Action Hong Kong made an oblique reference to the ongoing anti-government protests.

“The reason we as a group have chosen not to hold one is because we would not want to jeopardise students’ safety through a big group gathering – something which at this moment in time cannot be guaranteed”, it said.

“However, we are trying our best with still trying to support the movement and we hope that we will be able to participate in the next global strike”, it added

An NGO, Waste Free Hong Kong, stepped into the breach and hastily organised the local protest at the waterfront last week.

Its director, James Marlow, said he simply couldn’t ignore the global protests, being held ahead of a UN climate summit in New York, even though he couldn’t be assured of a respectable turnout.

“I just thought, even if I could get 10 to 20 people to join, that’s great – that’s 21 people who wouldn’t [otherwise] be protesting”, Marlow said.

Around 50 people turned up at the hastily-organised rally, including Nayla Ventura, who brought her two children with her.

“I think it’s always important to use every chance we have to show how worried we are about the future and the inaction of politicians… they are in charge of important decisions and they should honour that”, she said.

Older sister Nora, 9, said everyone should be concerned about climate change.

“To me, it’s important that everybody has a good life and they have the chances to live without being worried if they will survive,” she said.

Her brother Jan, 7, agrees that immediate action is needed.

“If there’s no more earth balance then we won’t be able to change it. And I want to change it before there’s no more earth balance,” he said.

Among the calls from the group was for the government to declare a climate change emergency and for it recognise that this is something that needs to be prioritised.

The event in Hong Kong was just one of hundreds in a global day of action aimed at pressuring leaders to take the issue more seriously.