Environmentalism with Chinese characteristics

Feature Story - 2008-11-17
What do you get when you combine a giant man-made planet, a vast open coal pit in Poland and four 20-somethings from China’s so-called post-80’s generation? A new Chinese youth movement whose ideological battle isn’t political revolution but saving the environment.

Greenpeace's Climate Rescue Station bathed in the light of a beautiful Polish evening.

Greenpeace volunteer, 23-year-old Wei Jian from Beijing arrived in Konin, Poland  at Greenpeace's Climate Rescue Station on the weekend. The station is perched next to the ugly scar that is Jozwin IIB open-cast coal mine.

Wei (pictured below), who is a freelance writer when he's not trying to save the planet, is joined by Liu Shuang, 26, who is Greenpeace's Climate and Energy campaigner.

In a few weeks, 21-year-old Han Chu, another Greenpeace volunteer from Beijing, and 28-year-old Li Yan, Greenpeace climate campaigner, will jump on board.

Their mission?

To tell the world that China's youth also care about the planet, worry about their future, and demand world leaders do something concrete now to stop the earth's most serious environmental threat - climate change.

The two volunteers are keeping a blog -- Voices from the Climate Rescue Station -- to spread the world among their peers about the climate change threat.

What on earth is the Climate Rescue Station?

The station is a four storey tall planet earth that will be used as a platform to tell the world that we can save the climate, but only if we quit coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels.

Greenpeace activists and volunteers took four days to get it all up.

The earth dome - using electricity generated from clean renewable energy - is a visual representation of the climate tipping point that the earth is currently perched on - showing the dark future ahead of us if we don't get serious and quit coal now.

Why is the station there?

Because from the 1-14 December, senior officials from across the world will be meeting in nearby Poznan for the United Nation's Climate Change Conference.

On 2 December, the Climate Rescue Station will be moved to Poznan Wolności square, where it will continue to send a message to delegates attending the climate talks to get serious about climate change, quit coal and work towards a meaningful deal to save the climate.

What's the big deal about coal anyway?

Unless all governments make concrete plans to shift to clean energy instead of increasing their reliance on coal - we will face catastrophic climate change.

Poland depends on coal for 93 percent of its power.

Similarly, some 80 percent of China's energy needs are met by coal-fired power stations. Burning coal is China's single biggest source of greenhouse gases.

Greenpeace China's current key campaign is in convincing China to move away from coal, which is costing the country an extra US$250 billion in hidden costs to the environment and society.

Our message to delegates in Poznan will be simple - in order to save the climate - Poland, China, the world, has to quit coal.

And we can do it.

Renewable energy can provide us with six times the energy the world currently consumes. And that's using today's technology.

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