On August 5, China.org.cn spoke to Lu Sicheng, of Greenpeace China about the organization's report on Beijing's environmental protection efforts.
Beijing's commitment to hold a Green Olympics put the city's environmental problems in the spotlight. How much has the city managed to improve its environment in the run up to the Games? On August 5, China.org.cn spoke to Lu Sicheng, of Greenpeace China about the organization's report on Beijing's environmental protection efforts.
China.org.cn: How do you rate Beijing's effort to improve its environment? What score would you give the city?
Lu Sicheng: It's difficult to give a precise score because different host cities face different problems. For example, from the outset Beijing faced much more serious problems than Sydney in terms of air pollution. So we can't simply award a score of, say, five or eight. We want to recognize the progress the city has made and to point out areas where it needs to improve.
Beijing made a lot of commitments when it applied to host the Olympics. The promises ranged over many issues, from traffic to food. The city has accomplished 90 percent of what it promised, and exceeded its commitments in some areas, such as investment in environmental protection measures, and the use of renewable energy.
As environmental technologies improve, Beijing residents become more demanding about the city's environmental conditions. So we cannot simply be satisfied achieving what we promised 10 years ago. We need to focus on continuous improvement.
China.org.cn: Can you list some of Beijing's achievements that impressed you the most?
Lu Sicheng: There are four major achievements I would like to share with you.
First, the city adopted new technology, including Solar Water Heating Systems, Solar PV Power Systems, and Ground Source Heat Pump Air-Conditioning Systems, in the Olympic venues.
Second, Beijing cut its reliance on fossil fuels. It set up the Guanting Reservoir Wind Farm to generate 20 percent of the electricity used by Olympic venues. The wind farm will continue to generate electricity for 100,000 families after the Olympic Games.
The city also installed many solar panels. There are very many solar panels along the superhighway to the new Airport Terminal Building 3. The city has 110,000 solar-powered street lamps along the Second Ring Road, the Fourth Ring Road, and other roads in suburban areas.
Third, until recently the city had only two subway lines. It has built five more lines, including one to the airport. It has also imposed stricter standards for vehicle emissions. Beijing has 4,000 public buses running on liquefied natural gas – the largest number in the world.
Finally, service industries now occupy a larger share of the city's economy; heavily polluting manufacturers have either had to take pollution control measures or move out of the city. About 16,000 coal burning boilers have been converted to use less polluting fuels such as natural gas, solar energy and ground heat.
These four measures to reduce air pollution and greenhouse emissions are in line with the country's long-term goal of energy saving and emission reduction. Greenpeace appreciates the work that Beijing has done. Neither Sydney nor Athens contributed as much to environmental improvement during their Game's buildups.