文章 Articles

Campus action: Chinese students take a stand

Universities across China are buzzing with green activity, says Li Peng. From book swaps and fashion shows, to climate conferences and the Live Earth concerts, student green groups are leading the way.

Article image

Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University is well-known for its trees and lawns, but visit today and you might find yourself appreciating another kind of “green”. Bins to deposit batteries for recycling are dotted around, while paper recycling facilities are seen all about campus. There are regular second-hand markets where books, including unwanted textbooks, find new homes. Invitations to save water and electricity are posted next to taps and light switches.


Environmental activities have become ever more frequent at Tsinghua over the last few years, and they now account for a significant proportion of the campus cultural life. “Green Tsinghua day” is in its tenth year, and includes exhibitions, lectures and events encouraging reduction in plastic bag usage and paper recycling. It has had a lasting effect on thousands of students; efforts by student green groups have succeeded in persuading many students to make changes to their day-to-day lifestyles. 




At Peking University, another of China’s leading universities, the environment is also a key concern. The Peking University Environment and Development Association is China’s longest-established campus green group. It has been involved in awareness-raising, educational and practical activities for 16 years. In October 2006 they formed the first youth group in China to focus on climate change: the Clean Development Mechanism Club, and produced the “Handbook for Youth Action on Climate Change”. On Earth Day this year, the group surveyed climate-change awareness across 19 Chinese universities, at the same time as it organised activities to educate students about the causes and consequences of climate change, its urgency and the students’ own responsibility. With support from the China Environmental Protection Foundation, the group is currently carrying out a campus energy audit to understand the contribution universities make to greenhouse-gas emissions.


Beijing Normal University has also featured a range of green activities run by student environmental groups, including fashion shows with environmental themes such as “the atmosphere”, “forests” and “water”.

Meanwhile, Jiaotong University Student Association in Shanghai left campus to visit the city’s most polluted district: Shenzhuang, and take the message of environmental protection into communities and schools.


Beijing Jiaotong University has been promoting energy conservation and saving water since 1987, and has adopted a range of technologies to achieve this end. In all, the university says, it has saved 5 million cubic metres of water and 1.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity. This tradition is an important part of what students are taught and are encouraged to sustain, and it has become an important part of the university’s culture.


Some universities are even making these ideals a compulsory part of student life. Zhejiang Forestry Institute has far stronger rules on the use of water, power, air-conditioning and public spaces than many other institutions.


Now, whether you are at Fudan University, Nanjing University or Xi’an Jiaotong University, almost all of China’s universities have students working to promote environmental awareness, persuading hundreds of thousands of fellow students to make changes to their lifestyles.


Active student environmental groups in China number 2,500, according to incomplete statistics. And they are linking up, exchanging experiences and organising regional – and even national – events. For example:  


• In March, Campus green groups in Chongqing joined forces to publish guidelines for student groups working on climate-change issues, with the aim of launching large-scale activities to promote water conservation, energy efficiency and emissions reduction.

• A number of Chinese universities, including Wuhan University and Renmin University, held a conference in Wuhan in June to promote on-campus green activities.

• In July, the Shanghai Live Earth concert became a platform on which the China University Students Environmental Organisation Forum brought together student green groups to make a statement on the need to combat climate change.

• Students from nine universities in Beijing used their summer vacation to teach cadres, farmers and teachers in rural areas about environmental technology.

• In August, groups including Peking University’s Clean Development Mechanism Club and the China University Students Environmental Organisation Forum formed the China Youth Climate Change Action Network to guide student and youth projects on environmental issues. Twenty-three of these groups are developing a database of power use and emissions on China’s campuses.  

• Eleven universities and research institutes, including Beijing Forestry University, North-Eastern Forestry University and Nanjing Forestry University, in October held a competition to increase understanding of forestry’s relation to climate-change issues.





Hope for the future

From energy efficiency to mitigating climate change, China’s students are looking for solutions. A lack of resources and experience, fundraising, management and publicity do present problems, and it is often difficult for groups to feel they have a lasting and wide-ranging impact. If they continue to care and to act, however, progress will continue.

Chinese people sometimes refer to university students as “flowers of the motherland.” When our students graduate and leave university, their green lifestyles and concern for the environment will influence society as a whole. Let us hope that the Chinese people, already enjoying the fruits of economic growth, will then come to live more environmentally friendly lives and show concern for the worsening ecology of China and the world – and work to find solutions.


Li Peng is a Masters student at Tsinghua University.


Now more than ever…

chinadialogue is at the heart of the battle for truth on climate change and its challenges at this critical time.

Our readers are valued by us and now, for the first time, we are asking for your support to help maintain the rigorous, honest reporting and analysis on climate change that you value in a 'post-truth' era.

Support chinadialogue

发表评论 Post a comment

评论通过管理员审核后翻译成中文或英文。 最大字符 1200。

Comments are translated into either Chinese or English after being moderated. Maximum characters 1200.

评论 comments

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



Chinese Undergraduates Finally Take Actions

Fortunate for the future, fortunate for China!

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



The youth are hope of our motherland.

The article ending is too right. The youth are hope and morning sun. Only has the youth been awaken to put to the motion, our envirmental protection enterprise is hopeful. I’m so glad to see that chinese young people are taking action. Wishes them to do well, also wishes the Chinese dialogue to be better.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



The content of this article is pretty good and interesting

I think the content of this article is very interesting and I hope to read here other articles about the actions of Chinese youth in answer to the climate change.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



Chinese people have their say

After reading the preceding news/stories, I am wondering how come there is no news on Chinese university students at all. (There should be some stories talking about them.)

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



China should stand up for itself, with the help of student power it can, it is not too late to address these issues, the quicker the better for everyone, keep going china!

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous


非常感谢李鹏撰写这篇文章。很高兴得知中国学生在全国构建一个可持续的未来。我希望我们能跨越语言的障碍,共筑西方与中国在青少年气候行动中的桥梁。我经常在“青少年气候行动”机构的媒体工程《这里越来越热》(http://ItsGettingHotInHere.org)上撰写有关美国青少年气候行动的文章。我在那里转载了此文章,以便西方的学生和青少年能够读到中国的年轻人为构建一个可持续的、公平和繁荣的未来所做出的努力,这也正是全球各国渴求的目标。我希望你们都能加入这个媒体工程(ItsGettingHotInHere),帮助宣传中国学生和年轻人的故事。联系方式:[email protected]我们团结一致!杰西·詹金斯

"瀑布气候网络" www.CascadeClimate.org


Let's build bridges

Thank you Peng Li for this post. It's great to hear about Chinese students organizing for a sustainable future all across China. I hope we can build bridges across language barriers between youth climate movements in the West and in China.

I write frequently about the American youth climate movement at ItsGettingHotInHere - Dispatches from the youth climate movement (http://ItsGettingHotInHere.org).

I posted this article there so that students and youth in the West can read about the efforts that young people in China are making to build the same sustainable, just, and prosperous future that youth across the globe are striving for.

I'd encourage you to join the ItsGettingHotInHere contributors group to help tell the stories of students and youth in China. Please email blogmaster[at]itsgettinghotinhere.org to get in touch.

We stand in solidarity!

Jesse Jenkins
Cascade Climate Network

Check out http://ItsGettingHotInHere.org for frequent dispatches from the youth climate movement...

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous



who is involved?

Good to hear that students are taking a large interest in the environment in China. How much of the student population is involved in this kind of thing? Are all the students this informed, or is it only a small portion? I'm attending University of Colorado in Boulder, and its surprising the amount of students who take the environment as a non-issue. I would say somewhere between a third and a half of the students think that climate change is propaganda. In fact, while three of my friends and I that are environmental studies majors, going into research, fully believe in climate change, I have two other friends, also environmental studies but going into the policy side of things, who thing its completely made up. Kind of scary. So does this article tell the full story of students environmental stand in China?


Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous




Is This Science or Politics?

Global warming is a rule of nature and have no connection with carbon dioxide. In china, we can study and follow the phenology of Zhukezhen, the famous meteorologist. Thus, we should avoid blind following of trends. Plus, domestic warming of climate in China is caused by environmental pollution, which is an essential difference from the conditions of foreign countries--carbon dioxide cause the warming. Please pay more attention to the problem of pollutant diacharge, which deserve more effort. Banmen Nongfu.

This comment is translated by Stacy Xu.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

Action taken, rather than heart shaken

Its time for us, university students to take a stand, lets start from life details!

(by Fangfang CHEN)