As part of its bid to stage the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing is launching a $17.8 billion effort to tackle its notorious air pollution and traffic problems before the International Olympic Committee makes its decision on a host city next year. This year’s Olympics in Sydney have set a new eco-friendly standard, and the IOC plans to take environmental concerns into account in making future hosting decisions. The Chinese government says it will replace coal-fired boilers with heaters that burn natural gas, construct two new subway lines, build a number of greenbelts, and widen nine major roads. Beijing has already promised to replace diesel buses with ones that run on cleaner-burning fuel and impose strict vehicle emissions tests.

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