Green City

People becoming more green, survey finds

Updated: Jun 27, 2023 By Hou Liqiang China Daily Print
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Children pose for a group photo at the Xianshanhu scenic area in Changxing county of Huzhou city, East China's Zhejiang province, June 23, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese people are leading increasingly greener lifestyles, but the country still needs to ramp up efforts to promote green consumption, a survey released on Monday has found.

Compiled by the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, the annual report on people's environmental behaviors was first issued in 2019. The report this year is based on 12,485 questionnaires collected from the 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland.

It found the proportion of respondents that often bought environmental-friendly products had increased to over 60 percent last year, from 30 to 40 percent in 2020. In 2019, roughly 30 percent of participants in the survey believed they did well in waste sorting. The proportion had almost doubled by last year.

The report, however, noted serious waste in the consumption of food, clothing and electronics.

A total of 23.3 percent of the interviewees frequently threw away expired food, it said. More than a quarter of people often bought new clothes and shoes, but then left these new items idle for an extended period of time.

Xia Guang, deputy head of the All-China Environment Federation, said though a dedicated law on preventing food wastage had come into effect in China in 2021, he still personally found grievous food waste after attending several large-scale dinners and banquets, with tables overflowing with leftover dishes.

He called on policy researchers to roll out more surveys targeting consumers and catering enterprises so that tailored measures can be taken to address the problem.

A separate report also made public by the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy on Monday, which compares China and foreign countries regarding the practices of eco-friendly ways of life, said Chinese people waste less food than people in the United States, France and Australia, but the problem in the world's second-largest economy is more prominent than in Germany and Japan.

In the catering sector, for example, each US citizen on average wastes 64 kilograms of food a year. The number stands at 46 kg in China, the report said, quoting data from United Nations Environment Programme.

The latest report on Chinese people's environmental behaviors also found that many people have only a vague understanding of the country's targets of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and realizing carbon neutrality before 2060.

About 10 to 20 percent of those interviewed said they have never heard about the goals, it said, though almost half of the respondents said they have some understanding of the background for the targets' introduction and the major paths to realize them.

It said only 30 percent of people know the targets specifically and understand the exact meaning of carbon neutrality.

Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said despite Chinese people having a high awareness of environmental pollution control, their awareness of tackling climate change remains weak.

If compared with some countries and regions that have spearheaded global climate awareness, especially the European Union, Chinese people still lag far behind on climate awareness. "The gap is actually very big," he said.

Despite challenges in energy supply, he said, people in Europe have a strong willingness to promote carbon reduction measures such as the carbon trading mechanism. "Chinese people's climate awareness has yet to reach such an extent," he said.

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