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China’s cyber road to philanthropy: a combination of hi-tech and social change

By Kou Jie, Gao Ke (People's Daily Online)    09:32, November 29, 2018

It is a universally acknowledged truth, that a nobleman in possession of good fortune should also be in search of a charitable feat in which to contribute. However, such generous acts are not solely exclusive to the moguls among us. Mansions for the homeless might be the billionaires' idea of charity, but ordinary folks can also carry out a good deed at a lesser expense, such as planting a tree in the desert.

In a little apartment east of Beijing lives a young man with a green dream. For 24-year-old Guo Xiangyu, checking his “carbon footprint” on his mobile phone has become a daily routine. Using a mobile app designed by China’s fin-tech giant Ant Financial, Guo’s carbon-reducing activities such as walking to work are rewarded with “green energy” points, which he has used to plant three real trees in the Gobi Desert of Inner Mongolia.

“By performing green activities, I have accumulated enough virtual points to plant a willow, a Scots pine and a saxaul in Inner Mongolia, as well as receiving digital certificates that allow me to check satellite images of the trees online. It feels good to know that the world has changed for the better thanks to my contribution,” said Guo.

Living a low carbon lifestyle and owning an individual carbon account have now become a fun past-time for the Chinese public.

Guo is not alone in his green campaign. Launched in 2016, Ant Forest, the world’s first large-scale, bottom-up pilot in promoting sustainability through digital technologies and social media, now possesses over 350 million users. As of 2018, the app has contributed to the carbon emission reduction of 2.83 million tons, or the weight of the combined annual carbon emission of over a million cars, as well as planting 55.5 million trees, covering an area of over 6,424 acres.

“Technology has the power to encourage everyone, on a personal level, to live greener lifestyles - and more broadly, to take on initiatives that help address global challenges,” said Bell Wang, a spokesperson of Ant Financial.


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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