When Zhang Yue decided to ground his two private jets for good to reduce carbon emission a couple of years ago, his family and friends thought he must be out of his mind.
Zhang, chairman of air conditioner producer Broad Group, said it is a pity that those worrying over climate change are still seen as offbeat, when attending a panel on climate change at the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia which will end on Friday.
"Climate change seems to be an alternative ideology," Zhang said, "some people think there's nothing to say about climate change, let alone to do anything about it."
Zhang is not alone. The panel discussion underlined the dilemma that crippled the global campaign on climate change: all talk, no action.
Rui Chenggang, moderator of the panel and popular news anchor, was "troubled" by the fact that Chinese tycoons are buying aircraft, heedless of greenhouse gases. Private jet ownership in China is expected to reach 800 by 2020, according to Wealth-X, a wealth research and consultancy firm.
The public indifference to climate change is not confined to China. Only 24 percent of Americans say they worry a great deal about the issue, which puts climate change near the bottom of a list of 15 social concerns in a recent survey by Gallup.
Although mainstream academia believe in climate change, half of the public still do not buy it, Qin Dahe, a member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said at the panel.
Zhang said a lot of things can be done to cut carbon emissions. For example, more thermal insulation in buildings will make people less inclined to use air conditioners. Better urban planning will help reduce traffic flow and congestion. Both will cut energy consumption.
"We know so much but we do so little, economic development always tops the agenda," he added.
Addressing climate change is not necessarily at the sacrifice of economic growth. If China's energy productivity reaches the level of the United States, the size of the economy will have tripled, with carbon emission being significantly lowered in the meantime, according to Qin.
To really mitigate and adapt to climate change requires the synergy of all parties, from scientists, to government and the public, said the climate scientist.
"Findings of research on climate change should be included in the textbooks of middle schools. Students should be exposed to related theories in geology class," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency April 10, 2014)