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March 2, 2010

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'Green' activists persuade elders

TWENTY young environment ambassadors are helping residents in eight communities in Xuhui District to live greener and leave smaller carbon footprints during World Expo 2010 - and beyond.

More than 70 million visitors are expected at the six-month Expo that begins on May 1, and no matter how green the Expo site, the visitors will leave a big carbon foot and strain transport during their stay.

These 70 million are expected to produce around 9 million tons of carbon emissions, according to the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

The Expo itself will be very environmentally friendly and energy-smart, its technology and practices reducing about 1.5 million tons of emissions.

Bureau experts hope the balance of 7.5 million tons of emissions can be offset by the public's voluntary emissions reduction. They suggest people use an emissions index showing exactly how much energy various activities consume - so they can change their behavior accordingly.

Green outing

The 20 young environment ambassadors, selected by the Environmental Protection Bureau of Xuhui District, are encouraging residents to go on "green outings" to the Expo, to reduce their emissions during travel and generally reduce their carbon footprint.

Most of activist ambassadors are seniors at Shanghai Nanyang Model High School, Shanghai High School and the Shanghai No. 4 High School.

They give lectures on green lifestyle and travel and teach residents how to use carbon emissions calculators.

"Teenagers may be more effect ambassadors than adults, as they are less preachy to adults," says Wu Guohua, advisor of the volunteers at Nanyang Model High School.

Students began their consciousness-raising last summer and many residents agreed to change their behavior, but breaking old habits and sticking to commitments is hard. The young people encourage them to persist and provide practical suggestions.

"Everybody knows that taking public transportation is greener than driving a car, but we can't expect every car owner to take the bus instead," says Tao Lisha, an ambassador for green living.

Car pool

Tao, a senior at Nanyang Model High School, promotes green living in the Hongrun International Garden residential area in Xuhui District, where most of the residents have private cars.

"I suggest car pooling. Though it's not as green as bicycling, it can help reduce emissions for the whole community," she says.

Other tips: use a car with low emissions, make sure the air filter is clean and keep the tires properly inflated.

Volunteers teach residents to use online carbon emissions calculators. There's one for travel (green outings) and one for energy savings and emission reduction.

The travel calculator shows carbon dioxide emissions for commuting, outings, train and air travel. Emissions depend on kind of transport, distance and frequency of use.

For example, taking public transport on a 9-kilometer round trip daily generates 1.8 kilograms of C02 emissions a week, while driving the same distance for a week puts 45.9kg of C02 into the atmosphere - 25 times more.

The other kind of energy-saving calculator covers such things as use of electric appliances, bathing, wasting food and other energy-sapping activities.

"You don't have to live a poor life to achieve a green life," says Wu. "Only a few changes can help you become greener while continuing a comfortable life."

Calculator for energy-saving, emission reduction

Green-outing c87alculator:

Good habits make a difference

Purchasing one fewer article of clothing a year can save around 2.5kg coal and reduce C02 emissions by 6.4kg.

Doing laundry by hand instead of using a washing machine once a month can save 1.4kg of coal a year and reduce C02 emissions by 3.6kg.

Setting an electric fan at low or medium can save 0.9kg coal a year, and reduce emissions by 2.3kg.

Using 1 cubic meter less of wood in interior decoration can save 250kg of coal a year and reduce emissions by 643kg.

Driving one day less a month can save 49kg of coal a year and reduce emissions by 98kg.

Maintaining and cleaning an auto air filter can save 119kg of coal a year and reduce C02 by 238kg carbon dioxide emissions.

Keeping the refrigerator door closed and opening it for just three minutes less saves 59kg coal a year and saves 177kg of emissions.

Climbing stairs regularly, instead of using the elevator to the 5th floor, saves 1,870kg coal a year, and reduces emissions by 4,806kg.


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