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Beijing confident of air quality during Olympics

updated: 2008-07-30

Beijing is confident to meet its air quality commitment by maintaining clean air during the upcoming Olympics, the Olympics organizers said on Saturday.

Beijing has pledged three commitments in terms of the air quality, namely, monitoring everyday the four major pollutants of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and inhalable particulates, striving for improving air quality throughout the year, and maintaining good air quality during Olympics, said Du Shaozhong, deputy director with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.

So far, the city has succeeded in realizing all of its commitments, he added.

Beijing has established a complete monitoring system with 27 branches in the city. Meanwhile, the four major pollutants have been monitored everyday and the results were made public, Du said.

On improving air quality throughout the year, Du said the number of clean air days increased from only 100 in 1998 to 246 last year.

Beijing has taken more than 200 measures since 1998 to improve the city's air quality, most of which will remain in force after the Games.

Since winning the Olympic bid in 2001, Beijing has strived to reduce the four pollutants by 60.8 percent, 39.4 percent, 10.8 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively.

To ensuring clean air for Olympics, Beijing formulated a plan last October referring to 21 pollution control measures, including pre-Games environmental measures and temporary emission reduction measures during the Games, Du said.

In the first half of 2008, the major pollutants have dropped by 20 percent and particulates reduced by 7 percent.

Beijing took 300,000 high-emission cars off its roads since early July. From July 20, private cars have been stopped on alternate days according to their odd or even number license plates in a bid to improve air quality and ease traffic congestion. The vehicle restrictions have resulted in 20 percent drop of major air pollutants, according to Du.

July has witnessed 22 "blue sky" days, or days with fairly good air quality, out of the first 25 days, Du said. The city had 145 "blue sky" days so far this year, 15 more than the same period last year.

Beijing is to conduct scientific, logical assessment of the air quality during the Olympics, said a confident Du, adding all the measures would definitely ensure satisfactory air quality during the Games.

 

'Weather condition contributes to low visibility in Beijing'

A Beijing environment official said Sunday that hot and humid weather contributed to the recent low air visibility in Beijing and the city would see clearer sky soon with weather cooling down.

"Beijing is usually very humid in summer and sees quite some misty days, which also causes low visibility," Du Shaozhong, vice director of Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, said at the press conference.

Beijing's recent hazy sky has become a concern to many people. Many are wondering whether it is pollutants that blurred the sky.

Du said both pollutants and whether condition could affect air visibility. "We have spent great efforts cutting pollutants and seen obvious improvement of air quality. As for visibility, no matter in which country, visibility is low in misty days."

The official is optimistic that Beijing's air quality will improve as weather changes.
"August seventh is the day when autumn begins (according to the Chinese lunar calendar). The weather in autumn is fine and autumn is usually the best season for traveling and having meetings in Beijing. I believe air quality during the Olympics will be fine," he said.

Since 1998 to 2007, Beijing has carried on large scale air pollution prevention and control work.

Since winning the Olympic bid in 2001, Beijing has strived to reduce the four main pollutants, namely sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, by 60.8 percent, 39.4 percent, 10.8 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively.

In the first half of 2008, the major pollutants have dropped by 20 percent and small particulate matter reduced by 7 percent.

To further cut pollutants and ease traffic congestion, from July 20, private cars have been stopped on alternate days according to their odd or even number license plates. The vehicle restrictions have resulted in a 20 percent drop of major air pollutants, according to the municipal government.

Du admitted that the so called extreme weather conditions like these days are not favorable on the control of the pollutants.

"On that extreme weather conditions, we will take tougher control measures to guarantee the air quality. We are on the right track of air quality control," he said, without giving details of the back-up plans.