China says Beijing Olympics "basically" carbon neutral
BEIJING (Reuters) - This summer's Beijing Olympics will be "basically" carbon neutral thanks to a series of energy saving measures such as the use of solar power and an afforestation program, a senior official said on Thursday.
Technology Minister Wan Gang said that the event was expected to generate 1.18 million tonnes of carbon, in part because so many athletes and spectators were traveling long distances.
"The 'Green Olympics' will take a series of measures, including technological ones, like planting of trees and controlling the use of vehicles, to reduce emissions by between 1 million and 1.29 million tonnes," Wan told a news conference.
"We can basically ensure that emissions will be balanced."
China plans to restrict use of cars during the Olympics to ease traffic on Beijing's often-snarled roads and freeways.
But it would be unusual to count any reduction in pollution that resulted from vehicle controls towards an event's overall emissions footprint.
The Games' organizers are also experimenting with pioneering new transport technology, including hybrid electric vehicles.
"In particular, over 500 new energy vehicles will be used, which will be the first time that central areas of the Olympics will be zero emission in the history of the Games," Wan said.
And in a more traditional green approach, solar, wind and geothermal power will also be used on venues and other Olympic-related buildings.
Some 80 percent of rainwater will be collected and 100 percent of grey water -- non-sewage or non-industrial use waste water -- from sites reused.
China hoped that by holding a carbon neutral Olympics they could set a good example for the rest of the world, Wan added.
"We hope that it will be a model for China when it holds large-scale international events and have a positive effect on climate change," he said.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
(Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china )