The race to host the Olympics is the race to the smartest city. In order to catch the eye of the Olympic committee cities have to become smarter – more efficient, greener and more sustainable. This series explores different initiatives proposed by various cities vying for the 2016 Olympic bid. Be sure to look for upcoming posts on Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. Be sure to check out Part 1: Chicago’s Blue and Green Games.
If you had to pick a mascot for a green campaign, what would it be? Well, Tokyo settled on an 18-meter tall robot statue called Gundam, from a 30-year old television show “Mobile Suit Gundam.” While this may sound more like a graphic novel, Gundam is the centerpiece for the real-life Green Tokyo Gundam Project, an initiative to raise money for the “Green Tokyo Fundraising Campaign Committee,” which is a key tenet of Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. While access to see the Gundam statue is free, retailers will be selling shirts and robot models, and a portion of the profits will go towards projects that include planting roadside trees, creating low-pollen forests in the Tama area of western Tokyo, planting lawns in schoolyards and developing the Sea Forest, an 88-hectare area of land reclaimed from the ocean that will host the equestrian competitions.
The committee is helping manage four Olympic projects to increase greenery in Tokyo. These projects are a small part of the Tokyo Big Change plan, a proposal aimed at bringing more green space and green living into urban life, in order to make the city an ideal host for the 2016 Olympic bid. Tokyo has over 12 million residents and is very densely populated. It is essential for the city to become smarter. Without changes to its current systems the city will become more polluted and not able to handle the growing population and the many visitors that would travel to Tokyo for the games.
The Tokyo Big Change plan contains a lot of goals, one of which revolves around creating higher carbon emission standards. CO2 emissions in the Greater Tokyo Area will be reduced to 2 to 3 million tons/year (about 3 to 4% of Tokyo’s total annual emissions). By improving their transportation systems, Tokyo can greatly reduce the amount of CO2 emissions. Several loop roads would be built which would circle around the outer parts of the city. Currently the average speed of a car in the Tokyo ward area is 18.8 km an hour. By 2015 they hope to raise the average speed to 25 km an hour. In addition to the loop road, air, sea and land transportation would all be linked, creating greater convenience, time savings and freeing up some of the roads.
While reducing carbon emissions is important. Tokyo must improve the safety of the city, particularly against earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Buildings along emergency transport roads as well as schools and hospitals would be made earthquake resistant. 90% of the homes in Tokyo would also be made resistant. In order to reduce the possibility of a terrorist attack, smart surveillance systems would be implemented including hazardous material detection systems.
If you hail from Tokyo, does the Gundam statue make you think greener thoughts? Is the Tokyo Big Change plan a roadmap for the future? And how do Tokyo’s proposals stack up against Chicago’s Blue-Green Games?
For more information check out Tokyo Big Change.