UN says Beijing Games largely met "green" targets

NAIROBI, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The Beijing Olympics met, if not exceeded, many of its pledges to be environmentally friendly, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Wednesday.

A study launched at a major U.N. environment meeting in Kenya said the organisers had made big efforts to cut air pollution and invest in public transport and renewable energies.

But it said more could have been done to work with grassroots groups and reduce the Games' total carbon footprint.

Overall, the report by independently appointed assessors concluded Beijing had raised the environmental bar for such mass spectator events and left a lasting legacy for the city.

"The public attention of the world focused on the Beijing Games and whether the authorities could pull off a landmark event on many fronts including the environment," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.

"They have fulfilled the promise of a Green Games in many areas including public transport, waste treatment and green Olympic venues."

The report said Chinese authorities spent more than $17 billion on environmental projects for the Games last August, exceeding their pledges in several areas including tree-planting and improving air quality by reducing vehicle emissions.

It also praised the Games' organisers for accelerating the introduction of energy-efficient infrastructure in Beijing -- more than a fifth of electricity consumed in all the venues came from renewable sources. (Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Sophie Hares)