SCIO press conference on progress of green Olympics and sustainability for Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

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I have two questions. There have been some concerns raised about large amounts of artificial snow being used for the Games and the impact this will have on water resources and energy as well. What is your response to this? My second question is also, given that there are many environmental initiatives are being tested at the Olympics, what steps are being taken to ensure these measures are not just short-term but to yield long-term results? Thank you.

Yan Jiarong:

Firstly, I'd like to answer your question about artificial snow in two aspects. The leader of Zhangjiakou will elaborate on the city's situation later. Regarding your second question about the environment and how to ensure the sustainable measures we adopted are a medium and long-term action instead of short-term efforts, I believe one of the directors general may give you a better answer.

As for the artificial snow, first of all, I would tell you that judging from the water consumption for the artificial snow, Yanqing and Chongli mountain area where the snow events for the Beijing Winter Olympics are mainly situated have abundant natural snowfall due to their unique climate conditions. In November 2021, there was large-scale snowfall in these two places that reached categorical blizzard levels, providing a prerequisite for cutting the amount of water used for artificial snow. In terms of actual water consumption, the water demand in the Yanqing competition zone during the Games accounts for 1.6 percent of the current total local water consumption, and 0.4 percent of local water resources. The water demand in the Zhangjiakou competition zone during the Games accounts for 9.8 percent of Chongli District's total water consumption and 2.8 percent of its water resources. Moreover, we have worked out measures to ensure water supply security, sewage treatment and water conversation so as to improve the carrying capacity of the competition zones' water resources and water environment. The ski fields also give priority to using collected and reserved natural rainfall and overland runoff as their water source for artificial snow. Our artificial snow system has adopted the world's most advanced efficient water-saving equipment and intelligent snowmaking system, which can maintain an optimal snowmaking efficiency subject to the dynamic external environment, to effectively avoid the waste of water resources. On the whole, artificial snow requires limited water and will not affect the local water security and ecological environment.

On the other hand, I want to point out that snowmaking is not entirely an emergency measure to cope with weather conditions. It is an objective requirement to ensure the quality of snow used in major international competitions. If we look at snow sports events around the world, snowmaking is adopted in almost all major international competitions to ensure the quality of snow. It is because compared with natural snow, the particle size, the water content, and the hardness of artificial snow can be changed. This way, it helps fit the needs of different competition venues and has more stable properties than natural snow. It is easier to make trails with consistent conditions after being compacted, smoothed and injected with water. Such courses can ensure fairer games to some extent.

Thank you.

Liu Haifeng:

Thank you for your attention to and care for snowmaking and water consumption in the Zhangjiakou competition zone. Let me add some words to it. Like Ms. Yan said just now, snowmaking is an important, fundamental work to ensure stable trails and fair competition conditions for athletes no matter in what order they will start. According to international practice, no matter what the weather is like in the host place, snowmaking is needed to make trails fit competition venues' technical specifications and requirements. According to searchable records, Lake Placid, Vancouver, Sochi, and Pyeongchang Winter Olympics used lots of artificial snow. Up to 90% of the snow used in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was artificial. Not long ago, we held the freestyle skiing and snowboard cross events of the 2021/22 FIS World Cup in Zhangjiakou, and up to 60% of the snow used in the trails in the Genting Snow Park was artificial. In a review after the events, the quality of the courses during the events was extensively recognized and praised by athletes from all countries.

To ensure snow services during the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Zhangjiakou competition zone has taken multiple precautionary measures and started preparing for snowmaking early. By collecting surface runoff and snowmelt, we have made advancements in water usage for snowmaking and eco-environment protection. Our efforts have been mainly embodied in three aspects: water conservation, water storage, and water-saving. In terms of water conservation, we have advanced eco-environment development in preparation for the Winter Olympics, with significant efforts in vigorous afforestation. As a result, the forest coverage of Chongli district has increased from 52.38% when the preparation started in 2015 to 71.53% today. The rate is already as high as 81.02% in the core area of the competition zone. Therefore, it can be said that our efforts have effectively conserved water. In terms of water storage, because of the excellent eco-environment and rich surface runoff in the Zhangjiakou competition zone, we have built 11 open reservoirs, underground snowmelt pools, and little landscape lakes among venues in the Genting Snow Park and Guyanshu venue clusters, totaling 530,000 cubic meters of water storage. These measures provide vital support in supplying water to make snow.

In terms of water saving, the two-venue clusters have adopted efficient, intelligent, and water-saving snowmaking systems and equipment that can dynamically maintain the most appropriate efficiency along with the changes of external environment. With this equipment, facilities, and smart system, we can save approximately 20% water. The reality has proven that all these measures have worked well and can fully meet the water needs for the snowmaking of all the Winter Olympic venues. Thank you.

Li Sen:

Your second question is how green technologies in staging Olympic events have been made more sustainable in practice. Green and environmentally friendly technologies have been widely used in the Winter Olympics, and there are many highlights in this respect. The previous speakers have briefed on it just now from various aspects, including the building of low-carbon venues, the adoption of carbon dioxide refrigeration technology in four ice rinks, and the construction of over-50,000-square-meter projects with ultra-low energy consumption—all these set good examples for developing low-carbon buildings to some extent.

We have realized the low-carbon energy supply. In other words, we have established the pilot demonstration project of Zhangbei renewable energy flexible DC power grid, which has ensured the integrated delivery of clean energy to the outside and ensured that the regular electricity demand of all the Winter Olympic venues is met by renewable energy. We have developed a low-carbon transportation system, which will ensure the use of clean energy vehicles during the games. In terms of competition zone protection, Ms. Yan mentioned the standards just now. All these are highlights of our innovative measures in terms of Winter Olympic technology, which will make immediate contributions to our urban and regional development and people's lives in the future, and has long-term benefits and promotional value. Some existing technologies that can be directly used for urban development, the Zhangbei flexible DC power grid, for example, will transmit renewable power resources to Beijing and its Yanqing district, and as a result, increase the proportion of renewable power resources used in Beijing and help China reduce carbon emissions and achieve peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality. We use many clean energy vehicles, such as hydrogen and electric ones. These have boosted the development of relevant industries and will continue to be promoted and used after the games in our cities. Another point is the commercialization of scientific and technological achievements. We have many significant scientific and technological gains in our preparations for the Winter Olympics, especially in the construction of venues. For example, there are many innovative outcomes in green building, which will be applied to other venues and infrastructure in the future. Carbon dioxide refrigeration technology is one of them. It can be used in venues for ice sports and some large refrigeration facilities in the future in a safe, stable, reliable, and energy-efficient way.

We set long-term standards because there were no green building standards for snow sports venues before, be it in China or abroad. Therefore, to build more environmentally friendly and more sustainable venues for snow sports, Beijing, Hebei, and Tianjin have brought together their planning and construction and other relevant authorities to establish the standards for evaluating green snow sports venues. As a result, the standards have become a local yardstick in these three localities and will serve as a regulative guide for the future construction of snow sports venues. As for the sustainability management system for major events mentioned by Ms. Yan just now, we have worked with relevant departments in Beijing to transform it into a guide for assessing the sustainability of major events. Turned into a local guiding criterion, it will offer a regulative guide to hosting major events and competitions.

Thank you.

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