- Title: CHINA/FILE: Hazy Beijing looks to deeper pollution cuts
- Date: 28th July 2008
- Summary: (ASIA) BEIJING, CHINA (JULY 28, 2008) (REUTERS) GREENPEACE NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS GREENPEACE LOGO NEXT TO PHOTO OF BIRD'S NEST STADIUM (SOUNDBITE) (English) GREENPEACE CHINA'S CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR LO SZE PING SAYING: "Beijing is still struggling with its air quality. Air pollution, industrial upgrade, improving energy management, transportation, are key issues coming to many Chinese cities and the developing world. We feel that although Beijing has shown political determination in correcting the historical mistakes, the fact that air pollution remains to be a top challenge for the city right now shows that it is very important to discontinue the failed model of 'lets build up first and then clean up the pollution later' the single-minded, narrow-minded economic growth model."
- Embargoed: 12th August 2008 13:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA6DAB204QZNBDPJWFYHESAE99U
- Story Text: Beijing may expand its pollution-cutting scheme as bad air quality remains a problem in the Olympic host city. Greenpeace says IOC and organisers have "reason for concern".
Haze-shrouded Beijing could restrict more cars and shut more factories if air pollution persists during the Olympic Games, a report said on Monday (July 28), as an environmental group said endurance athletes could face problems.
Beijing has ordered many cars off roads and halted much construction and factory production in an effort to cut smog before the Games open on August 8.
But the city still endured hazy skies over the past week, and again on Monday, raising fears that the sultry heat Beijing often experiences in August could make for a cocktail of haze, fumes and dust for tens of thousands of athletes and visitors.
An official newspaper indicated authorities may take more drastic steps to choke off pollution.
According to China Daily newspaper "more vehicles could go off the roads and all construction sites and some more factories in Beijing and its neighbouring areas could be closed temporarily if the capital's air quality deteriorates during the Olympic Games".
An official with the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau confirmed that plans for more cuts were being studied, but he declined to give details.
The official, surnamed Zhang, told Reuters by telephone that the measures would be put into place if air quality "turns out to be short of the standards we have promised".
Pollution has been one of the biggest worries for Games organisers who have said they may reschedule endurance events to prevent health risks to athletes.
Beijing's measures of PM10, particulate matter 10 microns in diameter, about a seventh the thickness of a human hair, have consistently stayed above Chinese national standards and stricter World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, Greenpeace said in an assessment of the Beijing Games.
Lo Sze Ping, campaign director of Greenpeace China, urged China to move forward from a "build first, clean up later" model, which he said was hindering Beijing's efforts in clearing the city's air.
"Beijing is still struggling with its air quality. Air pollution, industrial upgrade, improving energy management, transportation, are key issues coming to many Chinese cities and the developing world. We feel that although Beijing has shown political determination in correcting the historical mistakes, the fact that air pollution remains to be a top challenge for the city right now shows that it is very important to discontinue the failed model of 'lets build up first and then clean up the pollution later' the single-minded, narrow-minded economic growth model," Lo said.
Greenpeace gave Beijing a mixed assessment. It noted energy-saving technology in Olympic venues, stricter vehicle emissions standards and expanded public transport.
But it said clean-up efforts were hampered by lack of policy transparency and independently verified data. Beijing did not even officially collect statistics on smaller particulate matter and ozone, pollutants that worry health experts, Greenpeace said.
Lo said the Games organisers and sports teams had reasons for concern if the PM10 conditions wouldn't meet with national and WHO standards.
"Greenpeace believes that the current performance of air quality in Beijing, the IOC, the Beijing Olympic organising committee, and also the sponsor teams from various countries have reason to be concerned with the situation," Lo said, adding there were reasons to suggest certain long distance events to be delayed under such circumstances.
For four days now, Beijing had not experienced a "blue sky day", when the air pollution index stays below the national standard for "good air quality."
Cars are now banned on alternate days depending on their licence plate number -- odd or even -- and many government cars have been ordered off the roads. Taxis, buses and Olympic vehicles are exempted. Around Beijing, heavily polluting factories, such as steel plants, have also been closed.
A city environment official said last week that air was improving, with a 20 percent cut in carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter since the same time last year.
As Beijing gets ready for the Games, just 11 days away, time is running out for the organisers to ensure the city's air, too, meets the standards for the event.
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