Technology gives added impetus to China's green efforts

Ant Forest, a mini-app on Alipay, plants trees for users when they make greener choices in daily consumption

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Ant Forest, the brainchild of tech giant Alibaba, has inspired millions of Chinese to reduce their carbon footprints. The app encourages users to opt for greener options when shopping or travelling, and will enable trees to be planted in return.
Mr Geng Geng next to a commemorative board at Ant Forest's nursery in Inner Mongolia during a trip organised by the company last year. He has ''planted'' 10 trees to date, including several in Inner Mongolia. PHOTO: GENG GENG
A participant on Ant Forest's trip to Inner Mongolia last year learning how to plant trees with a local worker. When app users collect enough points, they can be redeemed for the planting of a real tree. PHOTO: ANT FINANCIAL
Participants of Ant Forest's spring trip to Inner Mongolia last year visiting nursery No. 95, which onsists of 120,000 saplings. PHOTO: ANT FINANCIAL
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In China, a potent force has changed consumer behaviour and convinced hundreds of millions to reduce their carbon footprint. But the change agent is neither the government nor civil society.

Instead, behind the hit go-green initiative is Ant Financial, a subsidiary of Alibaba - the technology giant that turned China into today's e-commerce and food delivery powerhouse, but which in the process also accelerated the country's trash problem.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline Technology gives added impetus to China's green efforts. Subscribe