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Environment pledge of Games on track
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-04 08:59

Beijing organizers have been putting all their efforts together to fulfil the capital's pledge to make the 2008 Olympic Games green.

"The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) has strived to protect the environment, preserve resources and maintain an ecological balance during the preparations for the great event," Vice-President of BOCOG Li Binghua said.

The committee has had close co-operation with the Beijing municipal government in the field in recent years, said Li.

By last year, remarkable improvements had been made in Beijing's environment.

Apparently air quality in 2003 was considered to be "good" 61 per cent of the time, 34 percentage points higher than in 1998.

The sewage treatment rate increased to 56 per cent last year from 22 per cent in 1998, and the afforestation rate rose to 48 per cent by 2003, a 4 percentage growth than that in 1998.

Estimates suggest that by 2008, pollution from coal-burning, emissions from low-standard vehicles and industrial production will be substantially cut.

The committee has actively been supporting the city government's decision in environmental protection, according to Yu Xiaoxuan, vice-director of BOCOG's Environmental Activity Department.

In response to the central government's pleas for people to save electricity this summer, the committee has taken the lead in adopting proper measures.

The committee has also called on designated hotels for the Games to increase the temperature of their air-conditioners by 1 centigrade, which would mean a 10 per cent reduction in electricity consumption in air conditioners.

The committee is now setting up its own environmental management system to ensure it fulfills its environmental pledges in Beijing's bid for the Games.

"We will try our best to reduce the negative influences of the Olympic Games on the environment and the eco-ystem," Yu said.

Beijing has vowed to make the 2008 Olympic Games an ozone layer-friendly one by refusing to use products made of ozone depleting substances (ODS).

This is in response to an appeal from the United Nations Environment Programme after Beijing won the bid to host the Games, said Liu Yi, director of the international co-operation centre with the State Environmental Protection Administration.

Under plans by the administration, by 2008, not only Beijing, but the country will no longer produce and use ODS, he said.

China currently produces and uses a significant amount of ODS, said Liu.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer has called for the world to stop using and consuming two major ODS by 2010.

It is expected that if this goal is realized by 2008, two years earlier than the date fixed by the protocol, China will have played an active role in promoting the implementation of the protocol throughout the world.

International co-operation is also a part of Beijing's move towards a Green Olympics.

The Italian Ministry of Environment has listed a series of projects with the Beijing authorities under the theme of "Green Olympics," at the Beijing International Environment Forum 2004, which was held in mid-September,

The Italians have provided technology and financial support to Beijing in establishing projects which reduce air pollution, including a laboratory for car exhausts to reach European III Standards.

Further collaborations is expected.

Dennis Leaf, a senior adviser to the US Environmental Protection Agency, expressed his agency's intentions to lend its technical and policy expertise to Beijing to help improve air quality in the capital.

"The improvement in air quality will hopefully provide benefits to the citizens of Beijing during and after the Olympic Games," he said.

Olav Myrholt, an environmental expert with the International Olympic Committee, said he is glad to see that Beijing is adopting active measures in environmental improvement.

"I believe that the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing will become a model in promoting urban environmental protection," he said.

Environment became the third pillar of the Olympic Movement along with sport and culture in 1994.

According to the Olympic Charter, the Olympic Games are to be held in conditions which demonstrate a responsible concern for environmental issues.

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