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UPDATED: January 26, 2010 NO. 4 JANUARY 28, 2010
Putting the Brakes on Carbon
More Chinese are adhering to a low-carbon lifestyle


GREEN DESIGN: A solar heater controlled by a timer is exhibited at the Guangxi New Technology New Products Fair on January 12 (HUANG XIAOBANG) 


PEDAL POWER: About 200 citizens in Jinan, Shandong Province, advocate a low-carbon lifestyle by riding bicycles on January 9 (ZHU ZHENG) 

Han Xiangyu hesitates every day on whether he should climb the stairs or take the elevator to his 12th-floor apartment. He also ruminates on what temperature to set the thermostat and whether he should take a car or bus to go shopping.

Han is a hi-tech company manager in Beijing, but he prefers to identify himself as a member of the low-carbon tribe.

"People emit a great amount of carbon dioxide, which generates global warming and climate change," said Han. "People working in the hi-tech industry are responsible to find ways to deal with the negative impacts that climate change exerts on ecological systems, agriculture, energy, economy and people's lives."

Not long ago, many residential communities including Han's gave each household five energy-saving bulbs at the very low price of 1 yuan ($0.15) per bulb. The Chinese Government, meanwhile, set carbon emission reduction goals. The government has said that the carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP will decrease by 40-50 percent in 2020 compared to the 2005 level.

Hi-tech aids

Beijing college student Qu Er recently bought a new cellphone that uses less than 1 kwh of electricity per year. The phone harnesses new energy-saving technology and is produced by Changhong Electric Co. Ltd., one of China's major household appliance producer.

"Saving 1 kwh of electricity can reduce carbon dioxide by 1 kg," said Qu.

If the technology is widely adopted in the cellphone industry, statistics from Changhong show that 522 million kwh of electricity can be saved in China every year, which is equal to the energy released by the burning of more than 200,000 tons of coal. Those energy savings would keep 410 million cubic meters of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere.

Qu also learned that a new type of battery developed by the company would soon be released. The battery, which has no mercury or cadmium, can make digital cameras last longer. "Even the package of the battery is very environmentally friendly and can be recycled. Batteries of this kind don't have to be separated from other garbage," said Qu.

"Science and technology are playing an irreplaceable role in developing a low-carbon economy and dealing with climate change," said Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology. "China has already allocated more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in developing technologies in this field and will provide more in 2010."

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