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Green Olympics Underway: Official
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Beijing is gearing up efforts to build a green Olympic Games in 2008.

The host city has initiated a number of projects to ensure cleaner water and bluer skies for the 2008 Olympic Games, said an official with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) last Tuesday.

"The Olympic Games have positive and negative impacts on host cities," Yu Xiaoxuan, vice-director of the environment department of the committee admitted.

"But Beijing will spare no efforts to reduce the negative impacts to the lowest level, while striving to use the ample Olympic opportunities to improve the ecological environment of the city and raise the public's awareness of environmental protection," he said.

According to the official, a 6,000-square-metre solar power system, funded partly by Italy, is currently under construction. It will provide hot water for 16,000 athletes and save 2,000 tons of coal a year.

Other projects including a heating and cooling project for a 410,000-square-metre building that uses recycled water.

"It is the largest of its kind in China and is expected to save 6,000 tons of coal a year," Yu said.

At the Sino-Italian environmental cooperation and Beijing Green Olympic forum, Yu also said the Beijing Olympic Village will have a 500-kilowatt solar power station and use motor vehicles that have zero or little emissions.

Three hundred low-emission engines have already been installed in Beijing's buses.

In addition, BOCOG has worked out a number of such regulations and policies and carried out stringent measures to implement them.

"On top of the policies, every BOCOG staff member has been told to work through "greener" approaches to saving energy and water, as well as being asked to recycle resources voluntarily," he said.

With respect to the building projects for the sports gala, which could easily cause environment pollution and energy consumption, BOCOG requires all projects for the sports gala to reach the ISO 14001 standard, an international standard system for safety management and environmental protection, as well as to meet the requirements of many green technology and management policies.

"To conserve resources and enhance energy efficiency, we have cut out four building projects for new sports venues, instead, we will use four temporary stadiums and renovate an existing one in Beijing," Yu said.

Also listed in the regulations and policies, BOCOG requires designated hotels of the Games to abide by the highest standards of pollution prevention, resource and energy conservation and plant and animal usages.

A guideline document for the torch rally was drafted to avoid polluting the air in Beijing, he said.

"Fighting pollution from public transportation is a core task for Beijing, when millions of tourists worldwide flock to Beijing in 2008," said Shi Hanmin, director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau.

To date, 300 new buses donated from Italy, with cutting-edge intelligent control systems to avoid congestion, have appeared on roads in Beijing.

Many other low-emission and clean-fuel cars imported from foreign countries such as Germany have been introduced to the city, according to Zhang Guoguang, president of Beijing Bus Group.

Zhang also said the transportation mobility management system has been upgraded in Beijing in a bid to prevent pollution during the Games and beyond.

Zhu Tong, an environment professor with the Peking University, told Environment China that the university is now teaming up with the bureau to launch a pilot project to enhance an air monitoring mechanism in Beijing.

He stressed that when people are questioning air quality in Beijing, they, especially foreigners, may not be aware that Beijing's air quality is not only decided by the city itself but also largely by its neighboring areas.

"For example, air quality was very good for several days before July 3 but it turned bad on July 3. We then detected that the problems were coming directly from adjacent areas outside the city," he said. "Our new monitoring mechanism is expected to make a breakthrough in this regard, in a bid to prevent pollution," he said.

Presently, many foreign research institutions such as the Atmosphere Pollution Institute of Italy, are active in collaborating with local authorities.

"Being a developing city in a developing country, Beijing is a mega-city with a permanent population of about 10 million and a mobile population of some 3 to 4 million people. We have taken resolute steps to improve the environment and we expect more international cooperation in the field," said Ji Lin, vice-mayor of Beijing.

"We hope to leave an 'environmental heritage' to the world after the Games," Yu added.

(China Daily July 10, 2006)


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