Environment News Service (ENS)

Beijing Enlists U.S. Help to Green the 2008 Olympic Games


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

WASHINGTON, DC , April 18, 2005 (ENS) - Beijing has pledged to the International Olympic Committee to achieve World Health Organization standards for urban air quality in time for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with the Chinese government to ensure that goal is achieved.

The city's strategy for cleaning the air depends on reductions in the use of coal, as well as tougher fuel quality and emissions standards.

Lee Gebert, China desk officer in the DOE's Office of International Science and Technology Cooperation, said the U.S. and China have a public-private partnership to foster the introduction and spread of clean energy in China.

Gebert said, 'We hope to continue to do this kind of work – helping industry deploy clean energy technology for the Olympics and hopefully replicating the technology throughout China.” Gebert said a hydrogen park in the Olympic Village will demonstrate hydrogen technology by operating five buses using Hythane® technology – a mix of hydrogen and natural gas.

General Motors has agreed to donate a zero-emissions electric bus to use during the Olympics, she said.

Solar photovoltaics will convert sunlight into electricity in the Olympic Village to light street lamps and heat swimming pools.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the keystone of Beijing's commitment to reaching WHO urban air standards by 2008 is to reduce coal consumption in the capital to 15 million metric tons yearly, in contrast to an unconstrained consumption forecast of 33.6 million metric tons.

City officials plan to achieve this goal by substituting natural gas, electricity and liquid petroleum gas for coal as a household heating and cooking fuel. Other plans call for shutting down coking ovens in big industrial plants and substituting natural gas for coal in some electricity generation. For example, the Chinese are very interested in technology that combines power, heat and cooling.

“It's a stand-alone system,” Gebert said, “like bringing a small-scale power plant into a building. You can provide electricity to a small building - for example, a hospital or supermarket - using natural gas, not coal, for cooling, heating and electricity, and you don't have to be connected to the grid.” Three buildings in Beijing might implement this technology in time for the Olympics, she said.

Beijing says it also will put more effort into developing a protective greenbelt that separates north China from the surrounding desert and its dusty winds that send particulate matter into every crack and corner of the city.

The cooperation between the two countries on greening the 2008 Olympics is taking placed under the 'Green Olympics Protocol,' an official agreement between the DOE and Beijing, signed in 2004.

The first U.S.-China Joint Working Group (JWG) for the Green Olympics Protocol planning meeting took place in December 2002, with representatives from China and from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Transit Administration, and the departments of Energy, State, Commerce and Agriculture.

The Joint Working Group identified 10 areas for cooperation – natural-gas technology; combined cooling, heating and power; clean coal; hydrogen and fuel-cell vehicle demonstration; environmentally friendly buildings; urban transportation; air quality; water quality; solar photovoltaics; and a Beijing-Chicago Friendship Cities Initiative to promote local environmental activities.

The JWG has established 10 teams, one to work in each area of cooperation. U.S. companies participated in the most recent meeting, held in Chicago in November 2004 at the DOE Argonne National Laboratory.“The Chinese government intends to invest $17 billion to $23 billion for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games,” said Gebert. “Beijing wanted to improve its image and upgrade its infrastructure, and they're using the Olympics as a catalyst to do this.'

At the Beijing Olympic Press Centre earlier this month, a senior government official said Beijing will strengthen its efforts to improve environmental management and reduce environmental degradation in time for the Olympics.

Wang Haiping, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Commission for Development and Reform, said Beijing will encourage 120,000 families to use natural gas, and expand the city's designated central heating zone by three million square meters in an effort to promote the use of more environmentally friendly energy.

Beijing will also strive to rejuvenate 40 kilometers (25 miles) of urban rivers this year, said Wang, who also said Beijing's forested land will be increased.

On March 26, Chinese government officials at the ministerial levels planted trees by the Yongding River in Beijing to beautify the capital city for the 'Green Olympics.'

The 180 officials are from the various departments of the Central Government, the National Forestation Commission, and the Capital Greening Commission planted a total of 1,500 trees.

And on April 2, 2005, the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee and the Dongcheng District Government jointly took part in a tree-planting activity at the park of the Temple of Earth, putting in 14 ginkgo trees and 130 evergreens.

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