China’s smoggy air looms ominously over major cities like Shijiazhuang, Jinan, Xingtai, Baoding, Xi-an and Beijing. Coal smoke billowing from factories and power plants cause “airpocalypses” in Beijing, during which breathing air warnings are posted, people cover their faces with masks, schools are closed and flights are canceled. According to ABC News, these airpocalypses can affect 460 million people. The hazardous smog levels are 10 times the World Health Organization’s environmental health guidelines. The Xinhuanet News reports that 70.6% of companies analyzed do not comply with the anti-coal laws. Decades of growth have contributed to all the smog.

However, China has committed to spending 2.5 trillion yuan ($367 billion) on renewable energy and going green. Specifically, Panda Green. Panda Green Energy Group Limited opened their Datong Panda power plant on June 29, 2017 to power northwest China. The 248-acre solar station in the shape of a panda provides 50 megawatts of clean energy to the electricity grid in Datong, China. At its maximum capacity of 100 megawatts, the station could also prevent 2.74 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years. Panda Green plans to set up another power plant this year, and more throughout China in the next five years. Panda Green will also be building power plants in the Philippines, Fiji and Thailand.

The Panda power plants are also an educational tool, and their appealing design draws positive attention. The United Nations Development Program proclaimed the panda the first animal ambassadors of Sustainable Development Goals. Also known as Global Goals, their objectives are to end poverty and tackle worldwide challenges such as the loss of wildlife in the face of climate change. The UNDP and Panda Green are partnering to interest today’s youth in green power. Together, they hosted a summer camp raise awareness in our youth about climate change and clean energy. UNDP and Panda Green are also holding competitions in innovative design, encouraging creative and aspiring youth to create innovative solutions to the need for clean energy. And the UNDP will select young people from marginalized groups in China to participate in Youth Exchanges. Youth Exchanges will provide leadership training in negotiation, mediation and advocacy. Selected youths will have the opportunity to participate in forums designed by the United Nations and other international groups to prepare young adults to contribute to global development.

With its commitment to renewable energy, and raising awareness in tomorrow’s leader, China (with the help of some adorable pandas) is helping to lead the way in going green!

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