US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday reached out to the world's largest Internet community to push forward her agenda of combating climate change.
For Clinton, achieving the green goals of lower emissions and cleaner energy that have been set at the highest levels of government also boil down to the personal choice of each and every individual, including those in her own family.
"We try to change our mental attitude. Turning off appliances, turning off lights. My late father grew up with the belief that you didn't waste things like electricity. We would turn off the furnace at night. We would turn off all the lights when we left the room," Clinton, 61, told Tsinghua University's public policy institute director Qi Ye, who hosted the chat organized by China Daily's website at the US embassy.
The former US first lady of the US had set fighting global warming as one of her top priorities for her visit to Beijing.
Apart from visiting a clean-energy thermal power plant with Todd Stern, US special envoy for climate change, Clinton also went to a church and met a women's group during her 40-hour stay here.
During the visit to the thermal plant on Saturday, Clinton had highlighted the importance of the China-US partnership in battling global warming and expressed hope that China would not "make the same mistake" as the US when growth came at the cost of the environment.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (4th L) visits the Beijing Taiyanggong Gas-fueled Thermal Power Co., Ltd. (Taiyanggong Power Plant) of the Beijing Energy Investment Co., Ltd. in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 21, 2009. [Xing Guangli/Xinhua]
It was a message she reiterated during the web chat Sunday.
"I confess we got a little bit less aware. And I think most Americans did. And we weren't paying attention. We had so many appliances plugged into the wall, draining electricity all the time. And we walked out of the room with all the lights on. Our big buildings would be lit all night long. We wasted a lot of energy, we wasted a lot of money," Clinton said.
"We can't do that. So being more efficient will take us a long way toward what we need to achieve," she said.
"We just don't want you to make the same mistakes we made. So that instead of just building more coal-fired power plants which may be slightly more efficient but are still large emitters, how should we work together so that you get your energy needs met without putting more absolute greenhouse gas emissions into the air," she said.
Asked by Tsinghua University's Qi to elaborate on the environmental cooperation agreed upon by China and the US on Saturday, Clinton said the two countries would enter a "strategic and economic dialogue" focusing on clean energy and climate change.
"We wish to create a series of actions and partnerships between our countries we hope that there would be many opportunities for partnerships between American companies and Chinese companies to produce cleaner energy," she said.
Clinton Sunday also cited the latest steps taken under US President Barack Obama's administration that would help this joint effort to combat climate change.
"I think a great deal is possible. Very much of it is technically possible. Our challenge now is to make it politically and personally possible. And that is what President Obama is committed to doing," Clinton said.
"With our stimulus money, which was a very significant downpayment on modernizing our electric grid, incentivizing changes in building construction and design, retrofitting federal buildings," she said.
"But it's also clear that it's not only the developed countries, it is the economies like China and India that have to become full partners. How you do it, given your challenges, is something we want to work on."
It was a challenge that included the growing voice of the Internet as Clinton also helped pen out a message to the 300-million strong Chinese online community at the end of the chat: "Let's work together for a clean energy future."
(China Daily February 23, 2009)