Almost two years ago, I had the chance to meet students in China working hard to raise environmental and energy issues on local campuses. Since then, I’ve tried to stay in touch and keep up with the progress of student organizations there.
Since my Mandarin is a little rusty, I’ve done this in part by keeping in touch with a number of young Americans who are there working on various endeavors after graduating from college — my future bosses, I am sure, by virtue of the language skills they’re developing. One particularly cool project that’s getting started is a blog/vlog called China’s Green Beat, started by a friend based in Beijing and a Chinese friend of his. You can check out videos shot in different parts of China exploring different energy and environmental issues here.
I wanted to highlight the Green Beat this week because I got the following email:
From April 4-6, thirty Chinese students will gather for a meeting in Beijing, during which they will be trained in how to make a “Green Beat” video, a video that focuses on communicating environmental solutions and empowering citizens to protect the environment. Ten of the students will come from Beijing, while the other twenty will come from all over China representing nearly ten cities, including Harbin, Shanghai, Urumqi, Changsha, Hong Kong, Taiyuan, Xi’an, Tianjin, Chengdu, and Nanjing … After the training is over, the students will return to their home cities and have four weeks to make a video for submission in the first annual China’s Green Beat — China Dialogue environmental video contest.
In a place where lack of access to information about pollution and other environmental degradation is one of the biggest initial impediments to Chinese citizens taking action to protect their communities, giving young people access to new media tools is a great idea. I’m looking forward to the results and to some groundbreaking footage that will show up on Chinese YouTube.
In other China environmental news — it might seem like a late-breaking April Fools’ joke if you know Chinese history, but it’s not — I noticed that an event called the Green Long March, named to evoke Mao’s Long March (China’s equivalent of George Washington at Valley Forge, and a central story in Chinese Communist Party mythology), is being sponsored by Goldman Sachs’ China office. Irony aside, this too looks like it should be an inspiring example of what young Chinese are doing to build a citizens’ environmental movement in China.
For those who think China is simply an uncaring, monolithic emitter of greenhouse gases, there are many potential partners in China, inside and outside of government, who are eager for climate change solutions. For those of us concerned about China’s carbon emissions, success is simply a question of figuring out how external governmental and nongovernmental strategies can support these people in their respective places in Chinese society.