Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Beijing Green Olympic

By Mathew Yakai in China

UNITED Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized in Japan before arriving in Beijing on Wednesday 6th that China must cooperate with the United Nations to solve major common challenges facing the world today.

Ban’s request came at the time when North Korea destroyed its cooling tower at its Yongbyon reactor site on Friday 27 last month, a gesture of disclosing its alleged nuclear proliferation exercise.

The North also handed its report to China, disclosing all its possible plants that are allegedly producing harmful weapons. The six-party members chaired by China including South Korea, Russia, Japan and the U.S. will deliberate on it later.
What more can Beijing do, as it is already engaged in both regional and international issues like the North Korea nuclear issue?
By now, U.S. and other major countries, including Ban, should realize that China is one of the third world countries capable of solving world’s common issues as a strategic partner through cooperation and mutual understanding.
I emphasize again, “China will only participate on issues on common understanding through established and recognized regional and international regimes by cooperation on equal participation.”
Since it’s founding in 1949 and particularly its opening up and economic reform three decades ago, China became the member of many regional and international organizations and took part in major issues of common interests.
One such issue is global warming and environmental degradation.
Apart from all its efforts and participation, China has ingrained the concept of Beijing Olympic and environmental issues very well, a timely message to the international community.
With just over 32 more days to go before the August 8 grand opening for the long longing Olympic, the world will not only see but experience the Green Olympic, a concept blended in the spirit of Olympic to send fort the message that mother nature should be looked after.
Beijing has put forward ‘Green Olympic” as one of the three themes for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The aim is to incorporate the concept of sustainable development into the preparations and the organizations of the games, to protect the environment, conserve resources and maintain the ecological balance
This concept is used as a catalyst to enhance the sustainable, coordinated development of the economy, society and environment of Beijing and China as a whole.
Also importantly, the public environmental awareness will be improved with a rich environmental legacy will be left to Beijing and the world sports.
"Green Olympics" is designated as one of the three themes of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Bearing in mind the principles in the Olympic Movement Agenda 21 and the specific local conditions, the preparations in the past two years have been focusing on the following three areas: Support Beijing Municipality in improving the urban environment, incorporate the concept of sustainable development into the preparation and operation of 2008 Olympic Games, improve the environmental awareness of the public.
These activities cover several aspects like waste classification, tree planting, wildlife protection, resource conservation, green consumption and so fort.
Therefore, a wider public was involved in the activities like green community, green school, green business, green tourism, green factory, and green unit to name the least.
Hosting the Olympic Games is an unprecedented, great occasion for the Chinese people. The Games itself, together with global economic, social and environmental impacts, is attracting more and more attention worldwide.
Thus, China believes that through staging the 2008 Olympics, Beijing will leave a sound environmental legacy to China and the world including the green demonstration venues, a new environmental management mode for organizing huge sports events, public participation in environmental protection and the continuous improvement of urban environment.
Drastic measure have been taken to safeguard the Green Olympic, like the banning of plastic shopping bags since June 1, even though it is a measure by the Chinese government to cut down the chemical component of the bag.
According to China’s Central TV, Beijing is removing 1 million cars off the road every day leading up to the Olympic period.
Beijing is also removing old and un-road worthy vehicles to stop discharging carbon dioxide, which is believed to be one of the major air polluter.
Commuters are encouraged to take public transport or resort to bicycle. Three planting and beautification of Beijing for a “green Olympic” is also on the rise.
This is a good message for the world to take care of environment but how far can China go after the Olympic given that China is a growing economy.
Chinese negotiators on most of the environmental conferences put forward three rationale: First, China is a developing state and such must place priority on economic development, second, should China’s domestic interest take priority or transnational and global concerns take priority, and third, it is incumbent upon developed countries to take priority as they were initial polluters during their development.
But China is among the world’s largest contributors of three of the most critical global environmental problems: biodiversity loss, climate change and ozone depletion. Yet, the international community has acknowledged that any global environmental accord must meet China’s interest and needs in each of these areas.
China is no longer a spectator! The demands of participating in global environmental regimes have forced Chinese leaders to establish new domestic institutions and processes for managing their participation in those regimes.
Throughout the period immediately proceeding and following the 1992 UN Conference on Environmental and Developmental (UNCED), for example, the Chinese government established a host of new institutions, bureaucratic processes, and policy initiatives to address both domestic and global environmental problems.
In addition, it permitted the formation of environmental nongovernmental organizations, began to use the media as an investigative tool for environmental corruption and empowered the court system to punish polluting enterprises.
Indeed, an entirely new vocabulary surrounding environmental protection emerged within China because of its interaction with the international community.
In short, the infrastructure to enable the link between international and domestic policy appeared to be in place.
As China becomes integrated into the international system of environmental agreements and organizations and as its economy continues to grow, the international community will place increasing expectations and pressure on china to adhere to international norms and assume the responsibilities.
But environmental problem is the world phenomenon and the international community must take responsibilities.
U.S. one of the major polluters and a hypocrite trying to become the “world police” is yet to rectify the Kyoto protocol. And how dare can it expect developing countries like China to fully comply with all the international norms pertaining to environment.
In Chinese history, economic development, war, and societal indifference have taken a devastating toll on the environment.
But it was in 1972 that China made up its decision to reestablish political and economic ties with rest of the world and that’s when the then Premier Zhou Enlai arranged for a delegation to participate in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
Events followed thereafter are history as we see today’s fruition.
As we move into the 21st Century with some fastest growing economies, our natural resources and environment are entering or already at some vulnerable stages.
How to help sustain our environment while allowing economic developments to proceed is a major challenge, for rising powers like China and India with vast population who will be affected if their governments try to forego economic development for environmental protection.
In this regard, modern technology is required. While the developed countries possess these technologies, the developing countries have the remaining natural resources and untouched natural fauna and flora to sustain the environmental balance.
The way forward is for developed countries to give free or at least sell cheaply these technologies to the developing countries so their economies are still developed while the environment is sustained or at best protected.
China with 1.3 billion people will take a while to cut down jobs immediately to protect the worlds green house effect because its domestic politics will be affected.
Many of its migrant workers in major cities need school fees and food on their dining tables.
China’s then State Science and Technology Commission vice president, Deng Nan, stated in 1994, “The development of the economy and technology has made it possible for it to increase investment to deal with environmental problems, but economic development in China at present is basically resource oriented.”
“It is possible that development will bring about destruction of ecology and worsening of the environment.”
“If environmental problems are ignored in the process of developmental economic development will be severely hampered. We should extensively launch international cooperation.”
Apart from terrorism, HIV/AIDS, proliferation of nuclear weapons, money laundering, human trafficking, child labor, to name the few, the issue of environment and global warming as the result of green house effect is one of the very sensitive issues that needs immediate and urgent international community’s attention.
In PNG, we see the result of sea rise in the Bougainville Islands
China alone can not solve this global phenomenon.
But at least, China is ‘thinking globally and acting locally” through the Olympic spirit, and will make sure the “Olympic flame burns even after the Game” to address the environmental issues.
Note: Asia-Pacific Perspective: China + looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China's role within the Asia Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how solomons can learn from China's experience. The writer is a PNG student in China. This article has been published by Sunday Chronicle in Papua New Guinea and Island Sun in Solomon islands

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