[2] Tokyo, Sustainable Olympics 2020

Mega-events in general challenge sustainability, as shown in the Olympics in Rio 2016 [a story for later on]. Tokyo, in contrary, is willing to become a ‘sustainable’ host for the Olympics of 2020.

Various streets are under revision, and construction sites pop up around the city, accompanied by banners ‘Tokyo 2020’ and the Olympic circles. The Japanese capital is preparing its role of sustainable host.

Carbon Down

In addition to the measures discussed in my previous post, the coming of the Olympics is speeding up some extra sustainability measures. The City is willing to decrease its carbon emissions with 30 per cent, and therefore various strategies apply, such as increased use of renewable energy (30% by 2030), decreasing energy consumption (38% by 2020), and decarbonising of public transport.

Remarkably, Japan has chosen hydrogen as THE sustainability strategy for the Olympics, a sustainable technology, which is still too often discrimated in comparison with other clean transportation technologies.

To provide the Olympic zone of clean transportation, 35 hydrogen fuel stations will be installed by 2020 (150 by 2030), and 6,000 hydrogen cars will be on the roads by 2020 (200,000 by 2030). Moreover, this hydrogen must be produced carbon neutral, or with renewable energy. To gain the hearts of the people, Tokyo has even its own hydrogen museum.

Urban Heat

Addtionally, the Urban Heat Island Effect* is another challenge considering the Olympics. Green structures, such as green roofs and walls, and water sprinklers, should temper the effect by the Olympics. Nevertheless, when walking around the real meaningful greenery I spot, are the real parks and trees along some roads. Additionally, the pathways out of sun blocking materials are an innovative, yet simple genius solutions to counteract the Urban Heat Island effect.

Tokyo - urban greenergy 2- Hibiya Park

Eventually, the most curious aspect of Tokyo’s goal to be a sustainable Olympic host, must be the proposed recycled medals, which will be made out of used electronics.

A mega-event for a Mega-city

If Tokyo will be a sustainable (host) city for the Olympics is not only crucial for the athletes and the visitors in 2020, but for the entire planet, since Tokyo is the world’s biggest city. With its 37 million of citizens, there live about as much people as in whole Canada. Moreover, Tokyo is only one of the world’s 33 megacities, where live at least 10 million inhabitants. Tokyo is followed by Delhi (29 million), Shanghai (26 million), Mexico City (22 million) and Sãolo Paulo (22 million).

[These are stories for later, but let me start with neighbouring Seoul (South Korea) first.]


*Urban Heat Island Effect in short

Cities tend to be warmer than their surroundings, due to the used structures and materials [concrete, asphalt, and stone among others]. These materials absorb heat and store it, warming up their surroundings, in contrary to elements of nature which don’t absorb nor store the heat. As a consequence many cities are a up to a few degrees warmer than their suburbs or rural surroundings, forming an heat island. This can be reduced or prevented by bringing the nature back into the city, by implementing green structures, such as threes, green roofs and green walls, parks, lakes, and so on.

Next time when entering or leaving a city, be aware of its temperature difference with its rural environment, often very visible in winter when it snows outside the city, until the city’s border.

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