By Zhang Zhifeng, People’s Daily
Responding to the country’s call for delivering an Olympics and a Paralympics in 2022 with a green approach, Zhangjiakou city in north China’s Hebei province, the co-host city of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, has found its endeavor to promote eco-friendly measures in preparations for the event yield encouraging results, benefiting ecological restoration, green transformation of industries, and development of clean energy.
Chongli district in Zhangjiakou city used to be troubled by ecological degradation in some area where sheepherders grazed their flocks.
Things started to change in 2014 when the local government made efforts to advance ski resort greening, corridor beautifying and other ecological projects, and designated 86 percent of the local land as ecological areas, where farmland has been turned into forests and grazing has been prohibited.
The district has so far cumulatively planted about 66,667 hectares of forests, with 70 percent of the trees planted being evergreens. Thanks to the endeavor, the forest coverage rate of Chongli has risen to 67 percent.
By prioritizing and improving the ecology, Chongli has made barren mountains green with birch woods and pines, allowing people to refresh themselves in nature while reveling in winter sports.
In preparing for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games with a green approach, Zhangjiakou has transformed and upgraded its pillar industries. Chongli, where mining industry used to dominate the local economy, has guided mining companies in exiting the locality in an orderly manner to make room for the expansion of the ice and snow industry.
Because of the booming ski tourism, ecotourism and other fields, tertiary industry of Chongli district, which has over 30,000 practitioners, accounts for 60 percent of the district’s GDP. During the last snow season, Chongli received more than 2.35 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 78 percent.
An ice and snow sports equipment industrial park has grown out of the Zhangjiakou High-tech Industrial Development Zone of the city and a batch of ice and snow sports equipment manufacturers have set in motion production, continuously enlarging the ice and snow industry.
Rich in wind power and photovoltaic resources, Zhangjiakou saw its installed capacity of renewable energy exceed 20 million kilowatts at the end of last year, which enables the city to not only provide most of the green electricity for venues for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, but stimulate the development of 12 power generation enterprises in Guyuan, Zhangbei, and other counties in the city, achieving both economic and ecological benefits.
Besides, green electricity can be used to produce green hydrogen, which is expected to fuel vehicles for commuting between venues for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games with zero carbon emission.
Zhangjiakou has seven hydrogen energy projects in operation and 23 under construction, basically shaping an industrial chain that strings together the manufacturing of equipment for hydrogen production, supply and storage, core components of hydrogen cells, and hydrogen energy-powered vehicles.
The fact that the utilization of new energy drives the development of new industries and green power and energy help improve the quality of industries has made Zhangjiakou more determined to attach equal importance to practical use while conserving the ecology and uphold the idea of green approach throughout the preparation of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and regional development.
To ensure easier access to green electricity for venues for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Hebei Development and Reform Commission has issued regulations to allow green electricity trade under the rules of the market.
In 2019, Zhangjiakou closed the first deal on green electricity for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. As of July 2021, it had traded 230 million kilowatt hours of green electricity, mostly with venues for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.
It is expected that Zhangjiakou will continue to transmit green electricity to Beijing and other regions after the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
In recent years, Hebei has held more than 4,300 ice and snow events, attracting 22 million participants. Taking the opportunity of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Hebei will further promote the development of ice and snow sports, industries and tourism, propel green and high-quality growth, give new impetus to cities, and bring better life to local people.