Today’s “News & Notes” post is going global. From Beijing to Tokyo to Melbourne (with apologies to ABC’s Wide World of Sports), we “span the globe, to bring you the constant variety of (Green)-Sports!”
BEIJING WANTS CLEAN AIR FOR 2022 WINTER OLYMPICS
This has to be great news for prospective Olympians, not to mention workers, volunteers, fans, anyone else associated with the Games. And, when one considers the scale of an Olympics and the size of its capital (21 million people as of last year), cleaning the air in Beijing will have positive effects for a significant chunk of China’s population
There are two big questions here:
#1 is will Beijing be awarded the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Right now I’d say the chances are somewhat better than 50-50 as Almaty, Kazakhstan is the only competition. The announcement of the winning bid will be made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One has to figure that a mega-city that has already hosted an Olympics (2008 Summer) would have an edge over a remote city of 1.4 million in Central Asia. But, it’s always hard to divine how the IOC will work.
Question #2 is, assuming Beijing wins the Games, will their clean air solutions be of the short-term, temporary variety, as with in 2008, or will they be permanent? In 2008, the Chinese government waged a “War On Smog” in the run-up to, and during the Summer Olympics. It closed down factories and limited vehicular traffic downtown, among other things. Once the Olympic flame was doused, the factories started up again, cars reappeared in the city and so did the smog.
According to a January story from Xinhua, the Official News Agency of the Chinese government, the cleaning-the-air efforts will be permanent and massive–the Beijing municipal government is reported to be spending $7.83 billion over the next two years to clean the air. Measures include reducing the amount of coal burned annually by 56%, phasing out/shutting down 1,200 carbon intense businesses, and increasing the amount of electricity generated by solar and wind (hard numbers are not provided but China has grown by leaps and bounds in this arena over the past 15-20 years.) It will be interesting to see if this aggressive plan will be pursued if Almaty wins the games.
TOKYO BETS BIG ON HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS FOR 2020 SUMMER OLYMPICS
Staying with the Olympics theme, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making a significant commitment to build a Hydrogen Fuel Cell infrastructure for powering cars–and eventually, office buildings and homes–by the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.
As Yukiko Hagiwara’s and Jie Ma’s article in the January 19 issue of Bloomberg News details, the Abe government “plans to spend $385 million on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations for the 2020 Olympics as part of…its plan to reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power.”
The result will be 35 Hydrogen filling stations in Tokyo by the 2020 games. The government is in negotiations with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. to have 6,000 Hydrogen fuel cell cars on the road by that time.
Both companies are in an Olympics-style dash to win the Hydrogen Fuel Cell car race. Toyota, which went all-in on Hybrids over a decade ago with the Prius, recently delivered its first Fuel Cell Mirai to Prime Minister Abe. Honda, which never really threatened the Prius, is taking a more aggressive approach, with plans to launch the FCV Clarity in 2016.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan fills the first Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (the Mirai). The Japanese government is putting $385 million behind the building of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell filling station infrastructure in Tokyo in advance of the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
AUSTRALIAN NON-PROFIT SHOWS REAL TIME CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS ON SPORTS
“Climate change and extreme weather events threaten the viability of much of Australian sport as it’s currently played, either in the back yard, at local grounds, or in professional tournaments. Football, cricket, tennis and more are struggling to adapt to, or prepare for, the impacts of climate change.”
So says Sport and Climate Impacts, a comprehensive report issued by The Climate Institute, a nonpartisan research non-profit, based in Sydney, focused on “highlighting the impacts of climate change and finding solutions.”
Key learnings from The Climate Institute study include:
- Heat policies across sports are beginning to evolve but many are unclear and inconsistently applied. In 2014, the Australian Open and FIFA World Cup in Brazil were prime examples of the impact of heat on players and spectators, and the uncertainty around application of heat policies (i.e. when to suspend play, offer players water breaks, etc.)
An official at the 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne tends to a ball boy who fainted in the extreme heat. Australian non-profit The Climate Institute details the effects of climate change now and in the future to sports in that country in a new report. (Photo Credit: Sydney Morning Herald)
- Drought can devastate community sport. Dried up, cracked surfaces during the Millennium Drought (Southern Australia) in 2007, for instance, saw three-quarters of AFL (Australian Rules Football) leagues in metro and rural Victoria (Southern Australia province; Melbourne is its capital) delay or cancel their season. Upkeep of community grounds rose, and ticket sales dropped.
- Sport generates $13AU billion a year for the Australian economy. But sporting events impacted by severe weather events are seeing significant drops in attendance and revenue. The 2014 Australian Open saw a loss of 12-15,000 spectators per day during particularly hot days.
- Australia’s mountains have seen snow fall diminish by more than a third in the last decade. Some studies predict her slopes could be mostly bare of snow by 2050.
Not surprisingly, the study finds that “Elite venues are improving resilience (retractable roofs, synthetic surfaces, raised flooring and flood proofing, energy efficiencies to compensate for increased cooling costs, etc.) but local clubs and facilities, the lifeblood of Australian sport, are struggling.” This notion was amplified and humanized in a piece last month by Peter Hannam, Environmental Editor for the Sydney Morning Herald. In it, he notes “elite athletes get access to an ever-widening range of (climate change-related) support (ice vests, hot rooms, physics, etc.)” while non-professionals do not and thus are exposed to far greater risks.
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