Green energy points, blue carbon credits promise vibrant future
A mobile phone user shows the mobile app of Ant Forest. [Photo/IC]
"Remember to collect your green energy points!" This is a reminder I receive every morning from my friend Guan Chengqian, a loyal user of Ant Forest, a platform launched by Ant Group in 2016 to encourage people to lead eco-friendly lives.
On the platform, users can earn virtual green energy points through eco-friendly behavior. Using the points, they can plant a virtual tree. When the tree is big enough, Ant Forest will plant a real sapling in desert areas. Users can also donate their points to other environmental protection projects, including the protection of nature reserves, coastlines and old trees. After completing a tree plantation or attending a project, they will be awarded a digital certificate.
During more than six years of participation, Guan has received 68 certificates — 15 tree plantation certificates, 13 reserve protection certificates, 28 ocean protection certificates, an old tree protection certificate and 11 for other projects for social good.
I was wondering what drew her to the platform and kept her loyal to it for such a long time. She said that at the beginning it was more of a harvesting game, but it also motivated her to do more for environmental protection after she redeemed her first real sapling.
The digital platform that witnessed her life journey from a college student to a doctor and now a mother, in turn, has influenced her lifestyle.
When she was a student, she mainly earned the green energy points by taking public transportation and making digital payments. As a doctor, she has been promoting daily walking of more than 6,000 steps. Now, she has found a more efficient way to get the points — by attending an online recycling project. All these efforts help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the main reason behind global warming.
"I donate unused clothes, books and toys through the project regularly. In addition to the green energy points, I also get satisfaction out of cleaning up the rooms and helping those in need," Guan said.
As the users of Ant Forest have exceeded 650 million this year, Ningbo, a coastal city in Zhejiang province, has tapped the market for blue carbon, which refers to carbon that is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.
In February, 2,340 metric tons of blue carbon credits were auctioned off in the city. It was also China's first blue carbon credit auction. Zhejiang Yiduan Precision Machinery, which won the auction, said the blue carbon credits will be used to offset the company's carbon emissions.
Though blue carbon trading is still nascent, the auction has attracted public attention to blue carbon ecosystems and will serve as a model for coastal cities across the country.
I'm convinced that whether as an individual or a society, each small step we take counts on our way to carbon neutrality.