Back in 2009, China was wrongly accused by the West of "hijacking" the Copenhagen talks on climate change.
By then China had truly implemented strict policies to reduce the energy intensity of economic activities and at the international level, the top Chinese leaders engaged in round-clock efforts to coordinate the stances of the major players to build a united front for efforts to address global warming.
But China was finally misjudged.
This misjudgment prompted China's scholars to rethink China's climate change communication strategy. Among them was Zheng Baowei, journalism professor of Renmin University of China, who realized China had to better shape its communication on its environmental protection.
Wang Binbin, then Oxfam China's communication manager in China, initiated research on how to better get China's environmental message across with Professor Zheng taking the lead. I myself was a witness to China's efforts in Copenhagen as I was with the then premier Wen Jiabao's delegation reporting on the talks, and, as a volunteer, I have been supporting this research effort.
Delightfully, the efforts have paid off.
Zheng set up a top-level international panel advising his research team, he is supervising doctoral candidates on climate change communication, climate awareness surveys have been conducted, many seminars have been arranged and, most important, a package of communication tools has been designed.
This year, Zheng also initiated a communication research center for climate change and health in Guangxi University in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in which he heads the School of Journalism and Communication.
Recently, he arranged a seminar on climate change and health communication on the changing situation both in China and the world. First of all, this highlighted that China's policy has evolved from reducing its energy intensity and pollution prevention into the overarching goals of achieving a "Beautiful China" and "Healthy China," while coming up with strategy to realize an ecological civilization since late 2012. With such goals, China implemented supply-side structural reform to curb pollution and reduce its overcapacity, and it played a leading role in securing the Paris climate change deal in 2015 together with the United States and European Union.
In Paris, China committed to peak its carbon emissions in 2030.
It is a demanding job communicating climate change and other topics of sustainable development well. Despite that, some foreign scholars have realized China's smart ways in presenting the green concepts.
Professor Jean-Pascal Van Ypersele, former vice-chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is among them. When he analyzed the causes of global temperature rise and its harm to humans at the seminar in Guangxi University, he said the aim of climate change research is to further reach consensus on the goal of tackling climate change and to strive for synergies to achieve related objectives.
He said he liked China's ideas of building a Beautiful China and a Healthy China and said it can be expanded into an idea of a Beautiful World and Healthy World.
Looking back from how China had followed the steps of the industrialized countries in advocating climate fight, now its own green ideas are being recognized.