A few small steps for man, one green leap for mankind

As the jolly red man approaches, here are a couple of green thoughts … beginning with a message from Peking University students:


No, this does not mean “down with Christmas”.

Rather, this was December 17th, the day before the end of the climate change conference in Copenhagen. During the day, students gathered on the ‘triangle’ (an open space on campus where the Tiananmen movement was born twenty years ago) to support action promised by the Chinese government to reduce carbon emissions. Then in the evening,

thousands of PKU students turned off their lights for 12minutes and 17 seconds. The figures of “COP15”, “↓C” and “V” composed of light appeared on the dorm buildings, vividly delivering the students’ wishes to reduce carbon emission and cope with climate change.

The full story is on Beida’s website, here.

Next, a snap from a conference I attended on the 15th, on my new campus, Tsinghua University: “Green leap: a new strategy for sustainable development”. (I take the liberty of modifying their own English title:)

The gist, put most succintly by the American keynote speaker, prof. Stuart Hart of Cornell University (and horrifyingly simplified by me here) is putting the geeks who invent clean technology in the same room as more profit-minded businessmen, helping green tech to make some green dollars. China, with its high savings rate and market as gargantuan as its carbon emissions, will be key. (Not to mention China’s own contributions to green tech. On which note, this story by Evan Osnos in the New Yorker is simply a must read.)

To either side of me were Tsinghua students, clean shaved and buzz cut (I’ve yet to see any exception of note to this norm), concentrating on the Chinese translation coming through their thick headphones. They then took this headgear off to listen to Chinese panelists – from businessmen to a government representative – discuss and solidify the message. Their seriousness was as palpable as the smog outside the window.

I’ll write more specifics of Chinese student attitudes to Copenhagen after the holidays. For the moment, a merry Christmas to all, and a new year’s wish for a healthy world for China’s youth – and this youth – to grow up in.