March 26 (UPI) -- The Winter Olympics in 2022 will have a low carbon footprint with the Chinese host city committing to more renewables, an international partner said.
Beijing and the city of Zhangjiakou are co-hosts for the 2022 games. During the weekend, the International Renewable Energy Agency said it partnered with Zhangjiakou to develop a low-carbon road map that sees it draw 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.
During the signing of a memorandum of understanding, Adnan Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said China as a whole has made steady progress with its renewable energy aims.
"From renewable energy adoption to technological innovation - China is emerging as a leader of the new energy economy and a key actor in energy transformation," he said in a statement.
Air quality concerns were raised for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where air quality has at times been below levels considered healthy by the World Health Organization. Beijing's air pollution levels continue to raise public health concerns.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has put health at the forefront of government policy, however. The president has his signature on the Paris climate agreement and a regional assessment from consultant group Frost & Sullivan said it will be the Asian economies that lead the world in adopting clean energy technology.
The memorandum signed with the IRENA calls for a "low-carbon" zone in Zhangjiakou, with Olympic facilities drawing on renewable energy. For the four years ending in 2016, Chinese solar energy incorporation has increased by a factor of 10. The nation as a whole plans to invest at least $350 billion on renewables over the next two years.
"The pursuit of a low-carbon Winter Olympics in 2022 will not only support China's ambition to lower harmful emissions, but it will also see them pioneer a movement towards the cost-effective decarbonization of the world's greatest spectacles," Amin added.