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06 Jun 2008
IOC News , Beijing 2008

Greening China after the Olympic Games

Countdown to Beijing 2008: today on environment !
As Beijing prepares to host the Olympic Games in August, the city’s commitment to staging a “Green” Olympics is coming under increasingly close scrutiny. China’s capital, through the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), has undertaken a programme of measures to improve the urban environment, not just for the Games but also for the future benefit of its citizens. But how has it fared? Pretty well, it seems.

Cleaner and greener city
Beijing has spent over USD 16 billion (120 billion Yuan) tackling its chronic pollution to create a cleaner and greener city. This includes relocating polluting factories, increasing green space, improving waste management and water treatment, and adding more subway lines while scrapping older, polluting vehicles and introducing more ecologically-friendly buses. Alternative energy sources, such as wind farms and solar power, are also helping to lessen the reliance on coal-fired energy.

Money well spent
A recent United Nations Environment Programme report lauded the “significant strides” made by Beijing. UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner said: “The initial score card on the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics 2008 is positive in terms of the greening of the Games.” He added the money “appears to have been well spent – and will be even more well spent if the lessons learnt and measures adopted are picked by municipalities across the country so as to leave a real and lasting nationwide legacy.”

Non-disposable chopsticks and energy saving light bulbs
For Greenpeace China, which has been liaising with BOCOG since 2006,  “it is not so much to green the Games, but to ensure that environmental successes achieved for the Olympic Games  will have a wider impact beyond 2008”. Greenpeace Campaign Director Lo Szeping  asks the following question: “If Beijing can organise a Green Olympics, why can’t China show that a developing country of its size can also develop in a sustainable way?” Greenpeace has been lobbying Beijing businesses and residents to adopt more environmentally friendly habits, persuading over 300 Beijing restaurants to use non-disposable chopsticks, and urging residents to use energy-saving light bulbs. “We believe that everyone can help to make the Olympic Games  and China greener even after 2008,” said Lo.

Reasons to be confident
“We have reasons to be confident. We are looking forward to lessons and experiences gained in the preparation of the Green Olympics being radiated to other parts of China”, underlines  Frances Fremont-Smith, Executive Director of Future Generations/China, another NGO that has organised two Green Long Marches. The most recent one of these marches, in April 2008, gathered around  4,000 students from 55 universities from across the country. They crossed China to research environmental protection and share their enthusiasm for the Games. It is planned to become an annual event
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