2008 Olympics: Beijing Rewards Those Who Report Polluters

BEIJING, China, January 15, 2006 (ENS) - With 570 days to go before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games open here, city residents are being encouraged to help achieve the Olympic Committee's green goals and being paid for their efforts.

Beijing citizens are reporting to authorities environmental offenses such as polluting factories, dusty construction sites and vehicles emitting black smoke.

The city received 2,302 reports last year. Residents must deliver proof of their allegations in the form of photos or video footage as evidence along with their reports.

Beijing

A smoggy day in Beijing (Photo by Edwin P. Ewing, Jr. courtesy CDC)
"A total of 58,900 yuan (US$7,550) was awarded to the informants," in 2006, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau was quoted as saying in the "Beijing Daily" newspaper.

Offenders responsible for 2,200 of the complaints have been punished and the other cases will be settled by the end of the month, according to the bureau.

Municipal environmental authorities initiated the program in 2004 and the program will continue this year.

The bureau says the city's air quality is improving. On December 24, 2006, the bureau said Beijing met its annual target of 65 percent clean air days with 238 days of level two air quality or better since January 1, 2006.

The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, and the International Olympic Committee, IOC, Thursday reaffirmed the environment as a major priority for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Olympics

An artist's rendition of the new 91,000 seat National Stadium being built for the Beijing Summer Olympics, August 8-24, 2008. (Image courtesy BOCOG)
Meeting at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, IOC President Jacques Rogge and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner discussed support for the green goals of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Organizing Committee.

Rogge welcomed UNEPís offer to conduct an environmental audit of the Beijing Olympics.

Rogge and Steiner also agreed that the IOC will liaise with UNEP and with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games on a coordinated campaign to promote the environmental aspects of the Olympics.

UNEP has worked with the IOC since 1994 in the belief that sport and mass spectator events can act as an important vehicle for galvanizing global interest and action for sustainable development.

The environment is the third dimension of the Olympic Movement. It has become one of the main criteria for the evaluation and selection of cities to host the Olympic Games and is also a major priority for the preparation and staging of the Games.

In November 2005, UNEP and the Beijing Organizing Committee signed an agreement aimed at making the summer Olympics of 2008 environmentally friendly.

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In 2005, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau set up a sub-station in the Olympic Green to monitor air quality during venue construction. (Photo courtesy BOCOG)
The agreement rests on Beijing's environmental ambitions in areas ranging from air, water and noise pollution up to transport, landscaping, and the disposal of solid waste.

A key part of the plan and one in which UNEP will be actively involved is in the area of public awareness campaigns.

Eric Falt, director of the UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information which will be spearheading the UN side of the Beijing agreement, said at the time, "Sport has the power to bridge the divide between communities and countries and in doing so help in our common quest for a more stable and peaceful world."

"Part of that stability rests on a healthy and durable environment," Falt said. "So the commitments made by the organizing committee for the 2008 summer games have resonance both within and beyond the sporting world."