The green side of Olympics
Sunday, 10 August 2008, Written by Julien   
I usually see the dark side of air pollution in Beijing: the data! The reason is that air in Beijing is not good compared with international standards. It is a fact that on most days air in Beijing would be considered as bad in European cities.

However, if I step back and have a look at the general context I am impressed by the efforts Beijing made to curb the emissions and by its successes in controlling the pollution. It is amazing that with more than 10% yearly growth over the last 7 years, SO2 & CO levels have been significantly reduced and NO2 & particle concentrations have been stabilized.
Electric bus in Beijing (c) tbus.org.uk

The measures that have been taken are really bold and I am sure no developped country would have been able to implement them. As it might be hard to understand for people not living in China, here below are just few of the measures taken to modernize transportation:
  • Replacement of old and polluting taxis (77.5% of Beijing taxis in 2001),
  • Opening of 4 new subway lines in the last 10 months,
  • Drop of public transportation price in 2007 (33% to 60% drop on subway fare),
  • Replacement of many old buses by comfortable and ecological buses...

Thanks to these measures the use of public transportation is now cheap and comfortable. People can let their cars at home and commute with mass transport. It's good for our air and for the people!
Beijing Olympic Green in the haze

For sure, air in Beijing is not good yet. But I think it would be much worse if the Olympics were not here: the international pressure helped Beijing to improve the environmental situation.

However, more efforts need to be made to achieve a good air quality and I hope the current momentum will be sufficient to stay on this positive trend.
Comments
Eugene wrote :
Woah, I thought the subway fares are already very cheap. Now it's even cheaper? When I visited Beijing last year, I had difficulty finding $1.20 taxis. Even the old taxis are publishing the more expensive rates. So I guess by now, one can find a newer and more comfortable taxi on the road. Btw, what's that tall building besides the birdnest-like stadium.
Julien wrote :
Subway fare is now RMB2, down from RMB3-5. Taxis are RMB2/km, mostly Hyundai Elantra (here)
The tall building next to the Birdnest is the Linglong tower (or pagoda). It is a gigantic TV studio for Olympics coverage (more here)
Martin Liu wrote :
I hope the air could keep clean like this after Olympic game. Thanks the rain last nigh! I feel much better this morning.
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