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How the Beijing Winter Olympics achieved carbon neutrality

Author : PCEC

21 February 2022

On February 9, the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee announced at a press conference that according to current calculations, the games were able to achieve all carbon neutrality goals.

Image: Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee
Image: Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee

From the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony to the offices of the Winter Olympics Organizing Committee being built on an old industrial park, environmentally friendly elements have frequently been incorporated into the Beijing Winter Olympics.

On January 28, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee released the ‘Beijing Winter Olympics Low-Carbon Management Report (Pre-competition)’. It shows that in 2018, it was estimated that the total greenhouse gas emissions of the Beijing Winter Olympics from 2016 to 2022 would be 1.637 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. The top three emissions would be spectators (accounting for 49.6% of the total emissions), venue construction and renovation (21.4%), and new transportation infrastructure (6.2%).

"Beijing obtained the right to bid for the Winter Olympics in 2015, and related research work began in 2016. At that time, the competition and preparation plan had not yet been confirmed, and the International Olympic Committee lacked accounting methodology. Referring to previous Olympic Games and other Winter Olympics competition models, especially when it comes to stadium construction, we can only estimate carbon emissions. Then, according to the progress of the preparations for the event, we will revise the sophistication of the accounting methodology to ensure that the actual emissions are accurately reflected,” Zhou Jian, the head of the Beijing Winter Olympics Sustainability and low-carbon working group, said. 

The greenhouse gas accounting period for the Beijing Winter Olympics runs from 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2022. According to the report, the low-carbon management of the Beijing Winter Olympics includes two aspects: one is carbon emission reduction and the other is carbon offset. 

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics Low-Carbon Management Work Plan announced by the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee in 2019 proposed the Beijing Winter Olympics would have low-carbon venues and use both low-carbon energy and transportation. Although the Olympics has implemented several carbon reduction measures, some emissions still cannot be completely avoided, such as emissions from new buildings and athletes taking flights. For these carbon emissions, three companies donated a total of 600,000 tons of CCER (Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions). In addition, Beijing Winter Olympics also adopted forestry carbon sinks such as artificial afforestation, and the carbon GSP system to guide the public.
 
On 2 July 2020, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee officially released and launched the "Low-Carbon Winter Olympics" WeChat applet, which uses digital technology to record users' low-carbon behavior in their daily life and reduce carbon emissions in daily life. As of the end of December 2021, 110,324 users have participated.

"We will regularly calculate and summarize the carbon emissions and the effects of emission reduction measures," Zhou Jian said. In order to ensure the credibility of the accounting results, the Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee also commissioned a verification agency with the qualification of the United Nations Designated Operating Entity (DOE) to review the results. The whole process of carbon management and the accounting of carbon emissions and emission reductions are subject to third-party assessment.

In June this year, a post-competition report will be released, which will supplement the work on carbon emission reduction and carbon management during the competition, and comprehensively analyse the implementation of carbon emission reduction, carbon offset measures, total carbon emissions and carbon neutrality results during the Beijing Winter Olympics from 2016 to June 2022.


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