Beijing presented a spectacular Summer Olympic Games to the world in 2008, the year in which I came into this world. Fourteen years later, this city carried on the legacy and hosted the Winter Games, which also stunned the world.
While the designs of the torch and the mascot Bing Dwen Dwen and the slogan "Together for a Shared Future" echo those of 2008 Olympics, you can still find the subtle but important details that make these two events distinguished from each other.
The opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics was more low key in magnitude but more creative and artistic. More college students and ordinary folks were taking their moments in the limelight. The lighting of the Olympic flame in the cauldron, which was placed inside the snowflake, was much smaller than before.
With tremendous development in the past decades and China becoming the world's second-largest economy, there is no way that Beijing cannot afford a luxurious opening ceremony.
So why not? Because we are going carbon-neutral.
Firstly, we used low-carbon transportation. Hydrogen was not only used to ignite the Olympic flame instead of liquefied natural gas, but it also powered more than 100 commuter buses for athletes and staff in the Yanqing area, which reduced 70kg of carbon dioxide emissions per 100km compared with those fueled by gasoline.
Secondly, we used low-carbon energy. Wind and solar infrastructures were specifically built for the Olympics. For the first time in the history of the Olympics, all stadiums were powered by green energy, which saved tens of thousands of tons of carbon emissions.
Thirdly, we used low-carbon stadiums. The Water Cube was retrofitted into the Ice Cube, together with six other venues from the 2008 Olympics, which saved a lot of emissions as well as construction costs.
For the first time in the history of the Olympics, dry ice (natural CO2 refrigerant), instead of synthetic hydrofluorocarbon, was used to cool skating venues, which again reduced tens of thousands of tons of carbon emissions.
In future when we gaze at a winter landscape, we will cherish the gifts from nature and be more aware of the urgency to fight global warming.
As a middle school student, I learnt from the low-carbon footprint of the Beijing Winter Games that in this fight, skipping school on Fridays or spending 15 days on a boat to attend a conference as my teenage peer Greta Thunberg did when she was my age, was not necessarily the best option.
But with empathy in our hearts and cutting-edge technology at hand, broader carbon-neutral activities mitigating a wider range of emissions are feasible.
Bravo to athletes free skiing in front of the Great Wall! Bravo to Beijing, the first city in the world to hold both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and the first city to host a carbon-neutral Olympics!
(Andrew Yu is a student at the Middle School Affiliated to Fudan University.)