sharing the Olympic spirit

City greener as Games approaches
By Liu Shanshan Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-07-23 19:56


Beijing’s skies are looking bluer in the last few days since it imposed a slew of severe restrictions, including a partial car ban and the stoppage of major pollution sources, on July 20.

Beijing's skies are looking bluer in the last few days since it imposed a slew of severe restrictions. [Xinhua]

Half of the capital’s 3.3 million cars, excluding taxis, buses and emergency vehicles, are forced off the roads on alternate days depending on whether the license plate ends in an odd or even number. The temporary measure, to be enforced till September 20, will ensure good air quality for the athletes competing in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Those drivers caught violating the rules will be fined 100yuan (US$14), according to the municipal traffic management bureau.

Earlier, the capital banned aging vehicles that failed to meet municipal emission standards, which are also called yellow-labeled vehicles or freight trucks.

“This two-month driving restriction should cut vehicle emissions of 118,000 tons which is about 63 percent of total emissions in Beijing,” said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing municipal environmental protection bureau. “The measures will also curb air pollution and ease traffic congestion for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Aside from restricting car use, Beijing has also closed heavy industries, halted dusty construction sites and stopped outdoor spray-painting to clear the skies and maintain relatively fresh air for a “Green Games.”

Nineteen heavy-polluting industries, including steel and cement mills, coke plants and refineries, have been asked to cut emissions by 30 percent, according to Du.

In addition, neighboring cities, including Tianjin and Tangshan, have also joined the efforts to ensure good air quality for the Games.

Tianjin, a nearby industrial port about 70 miles east of Beijing, will order 40 polluting factories to suspend operations for two months from July 25, according to Xinhua. As a host city for the Olympic football qualifiers, work at 26 construction sites near the city’s Olympic Stadium will also be closed.

One of China’s busiest steel centers, Tangshan, which is about 90 miles from Beijing, has ordered 267 factories to freeze operations by July 8.

According tostatistics from the Beijing environmental protection bureau, these measures have brought about initial success. Data from the bureau shows the density of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide generated by vehicle emissions has reduced by 15 percent and 27 percent respectively.

"There were 16 more blue-sky days than the same period last year," said Du. The bureau also reports a 143-blue-sky-day record up until July 21.

With all these measures in place, "Beijing is confident to fulfill its commitment to improving air quality and meeting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards during the Olympics", Du said.


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