by Xinhua writers Wang Haoming and Chen Siwu
SHENZHEN, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Shenzhen, the host city of the ongoing 2011 World University Games, introduced the games with a "green" opening ceremony on Friday night.
Some 12,000 university athletes, coaches and officials witnessed the ceremony, which was unusual in that it offered none of the fireworks or other festivities usually associated with large-scale public events in China.
City authorities promised that they would leave "green memories" after the 11-day competition, using the event as a catalyst for the creation of new, environmentally friendly city policies.
"Fireworks are seen as essential, especially at the opening ceremony of a large sports event,"said Shi Gang, deputy director of the event's opening and closing ceremonies.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics opened with a massive fireworks display, unrivaled at the time for its sheer scope. Two years later, at the Guangzhou Asian Games, fireworks displays at the Canton Tower and along the Pearl River amazed the world.
Shenzhen, however, has broken this tradition. The Shenzhen Mangrove Bird Reserve is located just 10 km away from the Shenzhen Bay Stadium, where the opening ceremony was held. The reserve is home to 400,000 birds from 200 different species, some of which are endangered.
"We noticed this problem and consulted the local birdwatching association. Although their investigation indicated that there would be no adverse affect on the birds, we made the difficult decision to cancel our fireworks display," Shi said.
Xu Meng, chairman of the Shenzhen Birdwatchers Association, said, "I was very happy to see the organizers cancel the fireworks show. For the audience, it was just a show; but for the birds, it meant a lot more."
Upon taking a closer look at some of the cars currently parked around Shenzhen, one can notice a rather unusual bumper sticker - a green ribbon. They aren't decorations, however, but instead indicated the driver's willingness to spend less time on the road for the duration of the Universiade.
The city called on its citizens to reduce the amount of time they spend driving during the games in order to reduce gridlock and reduce the city's carbon emissions.
"The volunteer program is totally voluntary, "said Huang Guoqiang, a spokesman for the games.
More than 400,000 car owners have volunteered to give up driving during the Universiade.
"It's an incredible number. We didn't expect that so many citizens would give up driving voluntarily," Huang said.
Huang said the reduced number of cars on the road will save a great amount of energy and cut a considerable amount of emissions during the Universiade.
The city has made other efforts to clean up its traffic. Last week, the city launched a project to introduce 2,011 electric and hybrid vehicles, mostly buses and taxis, to its public transportation system. The vehicles will supply half of the games' transportation needs.
"We hope that athletes, officials and correspondents from across the world will leave the games with 'green memories.' More than that, we wish to leave a green legacy for our citizens," said Tang Jie, deputy major of Shenzhen.
Carbon trading is a market-based technique used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for reducing carbon emissions.
Shenzhen launched its own carbon-trading program earlier this month, and the money raised from these carbon sales will be used to plant trees, build energy saving-facilities and fund environmental research projects.
Chen Haiou, president of the Shenzhen Emission Rights Exchange, said that each share of "Universiade Carbon" is priced at 32 yuan (about five U.S. dollars), and about 30,000 shares of "Universiade Carbon" have already been purchased by local residents.
"People's activities create green-house gases, so buying the emission credits is just another way to clean up after yourself," said Chen.