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  • China Vows to Clean up Air Ahead of 2022 Olympics


    (ATR) China is promising to reduce air pollution in Beijing ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics following the city's first-ever red alert for severe smog last week.

    China's vice premier Zhang Gaoli (Getty Images)
    Speaking at the inaugural ceremony for Beijing 2022, Reuters says China's vice premier Zhang Gaoli addressed concerns about levels of hazardous particle pollution in Beijing.

    According to Reuters, Zhang said authorities would take 'realistic action' to gradually reduce air pollution in the run up to the Games.

    "This is the greatest hope of regular people," Zhang said at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

    Zhang did not however inform media of specific measures the government would adopt to clean up Beiing's air.

    Around the Rings has contacted Beijing 2022, but is yet to receive a reply.

    Most of the pollution in Beijing is blamed on coal-fired power plants, along with vehicle emissions and construction and factory work, according to media reports.

    In March, Beijing 2022 said the government was spending $7.6 billion on efforts to tackle smog.

    The red alert issued last Monday in Beijing restricted factory work and traffic and prompted schools to close.

    A red alert -- the most serious warning on a four-tier system -- means authorities have forecast more than three consecutive days of severe smog.

    City leaders issued Beijing's first-ever red alert for severe smog on Dec. 7. (Getty Images)
    An online notice from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said it issued the alert to "protect public health and reduce levels of heavy air pollution."

    Readings of particle pollution (PM2.5) climbed toward 300 micrograms per cubic meter, well over the threshold of 25 micrograms per cubic meter the World Health Organization deems as safe.

    The Air Quality and Pollution Measurement, an independent pollution monitoring project based in Beijing, registered the Chinese capital as having a 201 grade last week, which is listed as very unhealthy. 

    Government leaders in China told the AP they plan to upgrade coal power plants over the next five years to tackle the problem, saying emissions in the country will peak by around 2030 before starting to decline.

    Beijing 2022 ceremony

    Chinese government and sports leaders came together in Beijing on Tuesday to mark the formal establishment of the 2022 Winter Games organizing committee.

    Guo Jinlong, president of Beijing 2022 (Getty Images)
    Speaking at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Guo Jinlong, president of Beijing 2022, said the committee will "pore over the Host City Contract and the Olympic Agenda 2020" before mapping out an agenda for the Games.

    "We shall ensure every task is accomplished," he added.

    IOC President Thomas Bach sent a letter to Beijing 2022 in honor of the ceremony. 

    "It is impressive how quickly Beijing embraced Olympic Agenda 2020 -- our strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement," Bach's letter read.

    "If we continue to work together in this spirit of Olympic Agenda 2020, we can be confident in the success of the Games in 2022.

    "The milestone is the first step on our six-year journey together to deliver brilliant Olympic Winter Games in 2022 for Beijing, for China and for the world."

    The IOC chief also said he is "convinced that the organization of the Games is placed in safe hands." 

    In July, Beijing defeated lone opponent Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a single round of voting by the IOC. The 2022 Winter Olympics are slated to take place Feb. 4-20.

    Written by Nicole Bennett

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