What is World Sustainable Energy Days?
Sustainability themed school trips are something that WildChina enthusiastically organizes. There isn’t a time where we don’t contemplate our contribution to sustainable development more than during World Sustainable Energy Days (WSED). This is one of the largest annual conferences on climate neutrality and energy transition in Europe. This year, the WSED will take place in Wels, Austria on 5-8 April. Its motto ‘Energy transition – full speed ahead!’ is apropos, given that the conferences will lead important discussions on how leveraging policies, technologies, and markets can expedite the global effort of reducing emissions.
Interestingly, the conference will be hosted in Upper Austria, a region that is leading by example in embracing energy transition, having demonstrated such after reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 39% within the past 10 years (Silvia, 2021).
Outside of Europe, China has been making progressions in renewable energy innovations and transitioning to clean energy. In recent decades, the country has demonstrated this positive shift through policies that embrace zero-emission energy. For example, China has imposed policies to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, and that by 2030 all sales by automakers will make up 40% of sales!
Those who aren’t familiar with China may not be aware of the aforementioned policies and actions that China has enacted to help populations and countries transition from depending on fossil fuels to using clean energy.
To spread awareness of China’s current contribution to sustainable energy, and inform more people about the significance of these efforts to sustainable development, WildChina Education has been organizing sustainability themed school trips that are aimed at teaching students the importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) through interactive activities in locations invested in sustainable development.
This article will demonstrate how to teach sustainability in China effectively through organizing meaningful school trips, and references WildChina’s successful program in Shandong Province to illustrate this point.
When it comes to tackling air and water pollution, China continues to undergo a dramatic transformation in cleaning up its cities. Because China’s investments in renewable energy don’t receive as much attention in Western mainstream media, China doesn’t immediately spring into people’s minds when topics such as sustainable development are discussed.
A big reason for this is China’s prior history with the air pollution that was plaguing the country. Prior to China’s recent focus on sustainable development, air pollution was a big factor that was responsible for many deaths and labor unproductivity taking place in the country (Rohde & Muller, 2015).
Nowadays, China is heavily invested in renewable energy, so much so that the country announced it will peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and reach carbon neutrality before 2060 (Song, 2020). So what is China doing to combat pollution and climate change?
Sustainable Energy Practices in China
One of the reasons I enjoy traveling across China (especially on their famous high-speed rails!) is that I get to enjoy the array of vast scenery that passes by. As I leave the bustling city, I’ve noticed that I usually come across open lands with towering wind turbines dotted everywhere. I had never seen so many wind turbines in my life prior to being in China!
It wasn’t a surprise to find out that China continues to accelerate the adoption of wind and solar power in 2022 and beyond. China’s largest state-owned businesses have pledged to invest in renewable energy and it shows by the strong growth that the global renewable energy sector has seen in the past two years.
Moreover, the capacity of these renewable energy technologies continues to expand in efficiency and size every year, making renewable energy more competitive with fossil fuels (Xue, 2022).
Speaking of fossil fuels, China plans to reduce fossil fuel use to below 20% by 2060. Coal is the world’s biggest polluter, but reducing its consumption is no easy task as 60% of the country is still fuelled by coal (France-Presse, 2021). There are also other challenges to optimizing renewable energy sources, most notably the amount of solar and wind power that is wasted from ineffective energy regulation and inefficiently handling and storing surplus energy (Boren, 2017).
In response, China has pledged to reduce power curtailment by improving its electrical grid infrastructure and experienced a 7% reduction in curtailment rate nationwide in 2019 (Radowitz, 2019). In addition, generation rights trading (GRT) has reduced renewable energy curtailment in regions of China with high concentrations of renewable energy by allocating resources optimally (Zhao, Zhang, Li & Zha, 2021).
WildChina Education’s Sustainable Energy Program in Shandong
We believe that the most practical, fun, and effective way for students to understand China’s current efforts in sustainable development isn’t to lecture them to boredom with a laundry list of information.
That’s why WildChina Education welcomes students to physically and visually experience our sustainability themed school trips that explore the country on a wide scale. Students that join our sustainability themed school trips get a holistic service learning experience by completing sustainability workshops and community service projects that teach them the importance of sustainable development initiatives.
WildChina Education’s sustainability themed school trips are designed with a purpose. We demonstrated this by taking students from Qingdao Amerasia International School to further explore their province of Shandong, a province located in eastern China that used to heavily rely on consuming fossil fuels, but is now the home of a variety of renewable energy sources and power stations, which has seen emissions reductions and energy conservation since 2007 (IEA, 2021).
Our sustainability themed school trips had received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the students and parents for creating an immersive experience that was both educational and exciting. So how were we able to accomplish this?
We’re able to provide these meaningful sustainability themed school trips through our 20 years of experience curating experiential learning experiences for the world’s leading academic institutions, and our established sustainable partnerships with local providers.
We take pride in creating long-lasting memories for our students without compromising health and safety. This means ensuring that all of our programs meet the latest health and safety standards set by the British School Travel Forum without fail and that any potential risks are evaluated and prevented before, during, and after our programs by our experienced team of experts in the industry.
All of our programs and sustainability themed school trips follow additional safety measures in line with COVID-19 prevention policies by the Chinese government so that our students can enjoy their learning experiences while staying safe.
WildChina Education’s sustainability themed school trips are inspired by the 17 UNSDG which recognize the importance of creating action in our local communities to protect our planet. Some of these goals include promoting quality education; health and well-being; fair partnerships; and raising awareness of clean energy.
We’re committed to prioritizing these goals during the design of our sustainability themed school trips. For Qingdao Amerasia International School’s set of students, our goal was to integrate STEM studies into the trip by providing insight into an ecological aspect of their province that they may have never considered prior. This was done by hosting a blend of carefully chosen activities that would also help them better understand the ecological impacts of human footprints and their effect on our own health and well-being.
During day 1 and 2 of the trip, the students arrived at Meng Mountain, where they would set up camp and be responsible for their own cooking and washing up using the tools and resources provided. This trip wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
Students were expected and prepared to challenge themselves mentally and physically by hiking up the famous Meng mountain the next day, and were later rewarded with fun physical activities such as waterslide rafting and toboggan through the forest. Having completed the first set of activities of the trip, the students had already understood the importance of self-sustainability and maintaining their fitness.
On day 3, students explored the incredible Karst Caves, where they could take part in more exhilarating activities such as ziplining through the caves. Next, the students were whisked away to the butterfly valley, where they could see the beauty and rarity of the butterflies with their own eyes. This activity was intended to let the students understand and appreciate the critical role of butterflies in the ecosphere and reflected on how infrastructure development has affected the population.
On day 4, students visited a reservoir and were guided by a local engineer who explained the process of energy conversion that takes place from the reservoir. This activity required students to put on their thinking caps and they were encouraged to be inquisitive and ask any questions they had.
Later in the afternoon, the students were assisted by expert carpenters to build bookshelves for a local school, which highlighted the importance of helping local communities in need through sustainable action.
On the final day, students visited a solar energy plantation and were tasked in groups to develop their own solar cooker that could boil an egg. Now, this wasn’t a contest of who could boil their egg the best. We chose this activity to demonstrate the power of solar energy and represented a microcosm of how solar energy can be harnessed to produce power for huge populations nationwide.
WildChina Education’s sustainability themed school trips provide students with fun and engaging life experiences that highlight some of the current environmental challenges that communities are facing, while enlightening students on the many initiatives China is taking to overcome these issues. Together, we can help students around the world understand the UNSDG; why they are critical in shaping a better future; and how students themselves can adopt simple habits in their daily lives to achieve these goals.
Boren, Z. (2017, September 14). Data: China is wasting lots of renewable energy. Unearthed. https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2017/04/19/china-wind-solar-renewable-curtailment-energy-wasted/
France-Presse, A. (2021). China to cut fossil fuel use to below 20% by 2060. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/25/china-to-cut-fossil-fuel-use-to-below-20-by-2060
IEA. (2021). Shandong Province energy fund – Policies. https://www.iea.org/policies/4692-shandong-province-energy-fund
Rohde, R. A., & Muller, R. A. (2015). Air Pollution in China: Mapping of Concentrations and Sources. PLOS ONE, 10(8), e0135749. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135749
Radowitz, B. (2019). ‘China wind capacity to double by 2028 as curtailment drops’. Recharge. https://www.rechargenews.com/wind/-china-wind-capacity-to-double-by-2028-as-curtailment-drops-/2-1-659479
Silva, B. B. (2022). World Sustainable Energy Days 2022 | Energy Transition – Full Speed Ahead! Assembly of European Regions. https://aer.eu/world-sustainable-energy-days-2022-energy-transition-full-spead-ahead/
Song, R. (2020). 4 Questions About China’s New Climate Commitments. World Resources Institute. https://www.wri.org/insights/4-questions-about-chinas-new-climate-commitments
Xue, Y. (2022). China to remain renewable energy leader with strong capacity growth in 2022, despite subsidies phase-out. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/business/china-business/article/3161732/china-remain-renewable-energy-leader-strong-capacity-growth
Zhao, W., Zhang, J., Li, R., & Zha, R. (2021). A transaction case analysis of the development of generation rights trading and existing shortages in China. Energy Policy, 149, 112045. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2020.112045