Bay Area climate heroes around us: Meet Lafayette's Wei-Tai Kwok

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Thursday, April 7, 2022
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ABC7 is putting the spotlight on climate heroes in our community, like Lafayette's Wei-Tai Kwok.

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- Earth Day was started 51 years ago, but at ABC7, we're observing Earth Month throughout April. One aspect is putting the spotlight on climate heroes in our community, people committed to expanding awareness of climate challenges and solutions.

When you visit the home of Wei-Tai Kwok, it's no surprise he has an electric vehicle parked in the garage. He acquired it 10 years ago. He also had 15 solar panels installed a decade ago.

Kwok was influenced after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" by former Vice President Al Gore in 2006. His daughter Shelley was 9 at the time and son Gareth was 6 years old.

"It would be too late for them to be part of the solution, and that whether I liked it or not, the adults of today, people like myself, would have to be the ones that would have to take action," he said.

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That led to leaving a successful career in multicultural advertising and switching to the solar industry.

"I realized that I actually had to quit my job and quit my career to try to find a new path forward that would be part of the solution."

He went to Chicago to be trained by Al Gore personally to give climate change presentations. His volunteer efforts earned him a national Green Ring award for giving 133 presentations in 40 cities and five countries. Kwok also co-founded the Climate Reality Project Bay Area Chapter, which has grown to 1,500 members.

"It's a long-term problem, and we need more and more people to get on board at any time, and whatever the motivation is, that everybody is welcome to be part of the solution," he said.

He also has influenced the two sons of Dr. Lilly Chen and her late husband to become climate advocates.

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"He's been very supportive of our efforts at speaking in town council meetings and Board of Supervisors meetings to advocate for climate sound policies in our own communities," Dr. Chen said.

Kwok and his wife Violet Hsu also lead by example at their Lafayette home to address fossil fuel carbon emissions.

"In just 45 days," Kwok said, "I converted and retrofitted my whole home to take out all my gas appliances and use a high efficiency electric heat pump appliances and save money and have now today a zero emission home."

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One person can make a difference on the local, national and international level. Kwok was recently appointed to a seat on the Lafayette City Council. He also believes as a Chinese American he has an opportunity to serve as a bridge to the people of China to promote better environmental stewardship.

"He's the best case example of really how to be a leader and how to kind of motivate people to work with you and bring many hands forward to have a more positive and more significant impact," said sustainability advocate Michael Cass.

Wei-Tai Kwok is Building A Better Bay Area by being a climate hero.

See more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.

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