The 2008 Beijing Olympics don’t look like much today. At most of the sites around the city, ground has barely been broken. But look a little closer and you’ll find that the games have already had a dramatic impact in the form of a thorough pollution clean-up.
China’s leadership knows the Olympics may define the country’s international image for decades. So officials have spared nothing in their efforts to show how green they can be. On clear days it’s now possible to look down Changan Avenue and see the peaks of the Western Hills, which had been obscured for years. Most homes and businesses have converted from coal heat to natural gas, many diesel-belching tractors and trucks have been banned from city streets, and 58% of sewage is treated. Beijing has moved nearly 130 factories out of the city and is building cleaner, gas-fueled power stations while installing scrubbers in older ones. It’s even putting up wind turbines to help power the Olympic village. When the Games start three years from now, the city and its residents will have spent $13 billion on the transformation. By the time the Olympic torch is passed, a sparkling Beijing may well wow the world.
More photos are here.