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UNEP chief to support green Olympics in Beijing
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13:21, August 05, 2008

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· Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
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Head of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) said Monday he will attend the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony on Friday as part of UNEP's continuing support for the Greening of the Games.

A statement from the Nairobi-based UN agency said Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director, will take the opportunity to see first- hand some of the environmental improvements implemented around Beijing for the Games.

He will visit several of the green facilities built for the Olympics including Beijing's newly-inaugurated subway lines and the Solar Wall, 2,000 square metres of solar panels.

UNEP has been working with the Beijing Olympic Committee for the last three years in order to help make the Summer Games environmentally-friendly.

"The Chinese government has spent 17 billion U.S. dollars on a large-scale green drive ahead of the Games, including a series of long-term environmental improvements for the city. As part of this, the city has introduced tougher standards for vehicle emissions and phased out ozone-depleting substances," the statement said.

The authorities have also expanded Beijing's public transport network with three new subway lines and the introduction of some 3, 800 compressed natural gas buses -- one of the largest fleets of in any city in the world.

According to the statement, the Olympic venues themselves also have many green features like the 20 percent of their energy comes from clean wind sources, solar power features prominently in the Olympic Village, and the Bird's Nest stadium has an advanced rainwater recycling system.

The statement said Steiner who is also a UN Under-Secretary- General will take part in the Olympic Torch Relay on Friday before attending the Opening Ceremony.

"While in the city, Mr. Steiner will meet with China's Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian and Wan Gang, the Minister for Science and Technology," the statement said.

Steiner will also take part in a special event on Volunteering for the Olympics on Thursday alongside film star Zhou Xun, who is the Chinese Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, and Khalid Malik, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.

The UN environmental agency said it will produce a Post-Games Environmental Report in order to assess the successes and challenges of the environmental measures taken by Beijing for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games in the second half of 2008.

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