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Young Chinese Voices on Climate Change

2020-02-10 04:03:13 《China Pictorial》 2020年1期

by Zhang Xingjian

Swedish teenager Swede Greta Thunberg was honored as Times “Person of the Year”for her efforts in calling for action against climate change.

Her appeal inspired a response from a Chinese girl. In her speech at the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25), 9-year-old Li Zilin from China expressed concern about how global warming is threatening the giant panda, the icon of her hometown Chengdu in Chinas Sichuan Province.

“We need to focus more on panda protection because global warming has already shifted the range of pandas preferred bamboo species and accelerated the loss of reliable habitats.”

Hosting COP25 was no easy task. Already relocated from Brazil to Chile, the conference was then hastily moved to Madrid, Spain. Nevertheless, the original December 2-13 schedule was still not postponed and nearly 30,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries attended the event.

Chinas Young Power

As one of the youngest delegates at COP25, Li remarked that giant pandas are very popular among kids because they are cute, clumsy and plumpish as they slowly enjoy life.

“But not everything can be done slowly in this world,” Li said. “Many issues like combating climate change call for immediate and concerted action, and panda protection is no exception. I cherish the opportunity to stand on the COP25 stage to make my voice heard.”

Her five-minute speech opened with her views on the relationship between panda protection and climate emergencies and closed by expounding on Chinese youths power to combat climate change and promote green lifestyles.

“In recent years, Chinese youth have played an active role in the global governance of climate change,” noted Li Yanying from Peking University, a member of China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN) at COP25. CYCAN is the first non-profit environmental organization in China to focus on empowering Chinese youth to act and giving a voice to university students and young people seeking to advocate fighting against climate change.“More Chinese young people have moved from the sidelines to practitioners, from theorists to doers, from followers to leaders,” she said.“Domestically, we are active builders of an environmentally friendly society, and we also amplify young Chinese voices on climate change internationally.”

During the two-week Madrid COP25, CYCAN organized several campaigns to disseminate young voices and guide young people to follow the process of climate change talks. They also offered several sideline events for young people to communicate with policymakers, entrepreneurs and leaders of international organizations to devise a central plank and effective methods for youth action on climate change.

In addition to delivering a speech, Li Zilin also launched a campaign with her peer Chen Hetu to promote the awareness of panda protection and climate change at the COP25 venue. The 2020 United Nations Biodiversity Conference is scheduled to be held in Kunming, China, and the two young delegates are also urging people to visit China to learn about giant pandas and see how Chinese youth take action to combat climate change.

Time for Action

As the largest developing country, China has attracted worldwide attention at this years conference. To show the countrys efforts in tackling climate change, the Chinese delegation set up a“China Pavilion” exhibition area.

The “China Pavilion” presented 25 side events to showcase Chinas practices and experience in energy conservation, emission reduction, green growth and sustainable development.

“Although China has made great efforts domestically on climate adaptation and taken a leadership role in global climate actions, people around the world dont know much about Chinas achievement due to lack of publicity,” said Xu Wang, secretary general of Millennials Energy, a Paris-based NGO that focuses on youth power to solve world issues. “Thats why we Chinese youth have the responsibility to introduce excellent climate action cases from China to the world. On some occasions like UNFCCC COPs, observers and civil society have chance to speak out as well. These voices can sometimes be louder and more convincing.”

Xu added that China has been advocating green and low-carbon lifestyles and noted that the effectiveness of several creative programs has caught global attention. A typical example was “Ant Forest,” a Chinese green initiative that received the 2019 Champions of the Earth Award, the United Nations highest environmental honor. It aims to turn the green good deeds by half a billion people into real trees planted in some of Chinas most arid regions.

In recent years, China has made arduous efforts to keep its promises as a major stakeholder of the Paris Agreement. According to a report on Chinas policies and actions to address climate change issued by the countrys Ministry of Ecology and Environment on November 27, 2019, China has been striving to accomplish its climate targets much earlier than promised.

The report noted that carbon intensity in China was 45.8 percent in 2018, much lower than the 2005 level, meeting the target of decreased carbon intensity of 40 to 45 percent ahead of the 2020 deadline.

Chinas renewable energy investment ranked first in the world and its cumulative reduction of carbon dioxide emissions also topped the world, thanks to the countrys policies to transform industrial structure, optimize energy consumption and promote pilot low-carbon programs.

Also, in keeping its commitment to the Paris climate accord, China has employed every available method to cut its carbon dioxide intensity by 60 to 65 percent from the 2005 level while increasing usage of non-fossil fuels to 20 percent of the countrys total primary energy consumption by 2030, the report said.

“Its not climate change, but climate emergency” was a popular slogan at COP25. The Oxford Dictionaries announced“climate emergency” as the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage demonstrating “greater immediacy” in the way people talk about climate change.

Actions speak louder than words. Carolina Schmidt, Chiles Minister of Environment and new president of COP25, spoke highly of Chinas role in addressing global climate issues and expressed hope that China and Chile would work closer to help implement targets of the Paris Agreement.