The city of Beijing will develop solar energy and earth energy technologies as part of its bid for the 2008 Olympic Games.
BEIJING, China – Civic officials announced sweeping new environmental protections including automobile emissions and waste pollution controls, during a visit by an evaluation committee representing the Olympics international governing body. Beijing is a finalist to host the 2008 Games and is placing a major emphasis on environmental reforms as the city seeks to win the support of the 124 member International Olympic Committee. The IOC will announce this July in Moscow its selection for the 2008 host city. Beijing has embarked on a $12.2 billion Action Plan for a ‘Green Olympics’ which includes the complete elimination of coal burning boilers and the prohibition of any open burning, as well as the development of solar and geothermal energy technologies. In an effort to control its pollution from coal smoke, it is constructing natural gas pipelines and storage tanks with the goal of increasing natural gas use in 2007 by up to five times over current levels. The city will encourage greater public transportation by expanding routes for subways and introducing dedicated highway lanes for high-occupancy vehicles. By 2007, 90 percent of buses in Beijing and 70 percent of its taxis will use natural gas. There will be controls on water and industrial pollution, and the city will become 40 percent “green” within city limits proper by planting shelter forests, trees and grass on exposed land. Beijing has launched a public awareness campaign to encourage families and businesses to recycle, conserve energy and natural resources, and use public transportation. It is actively promoting bio-diversity, anti-smoking and wildlife preservation initiatives. “The world is seeing an exciting new Beijing,” says vice mayor Liu Jingmin, who is also executive vice president of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Bid Committee. “Our initiatives in environmental protection, along with ongoing measures to modernize our technological and physical infrastructure will improve the living standards of all our people, promote sustainable development, and of course, provide for a Great Olympics.” China is undergoing a major transition to environmental issues, with 800 food companies manufacturing 10 million tons of green products last year, valued at 50 billion yuan, ten times larger than a decade ago, according to recent statistics. More residents are buying low-energy lights, freon-free refrigerators and lead-free gasoline. As part of its “Green Olympics” slogan, Beijing will install green toilets and solar lighting systems in many stadia.