Thursday, June 30, 2011

Santiago is Following Beijing's Olympic Example to Ease Air Pollution

Posted on the City Fix Blog on June 29th, 2011


Santiago Restricts Car Use to Ease Air Pollution

Air pollution in the capital of Chile has reached alarming rates, forcing the city to declare a Level 2, pre-emergency, environmental alert on Monday, June 27, 2011. Previously, the government of Santiago had declared a second pre-emergency environmental alert in early June. Air monitoring stations recorded pollution levels at 300 to 500 micrograms per cubic meter of particles hazardous to health, exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO)‘s acceptable levels of 50 micrograms per cubic meter by a factor of ten.

In response to the current levels of air pollution, officials have been enforcing vehicle use restrictions. The decision restricts the movement of 20 percent of vehicles around the perimeter of Santiago, which corresponds to about 310,000 fewer cars on the streets. About 800 industries have been paralyzed by the measure. In addition to the closing of factories, residents are discouraged from using wood and biomass heating until further notice from the local government.

Air pollution in Santiago is exacerbated by a lack of rain in the region. In fact, Santiago did not receive any rain in the month of May, contrary to the city’s “normal” May conditions, which feature 1.8 inches of rainfall. Forecasters, however, have been optimistic that June will bring at least a little amount of rain to the city. Indeed, there is a 70 percent chance of rain for Santiago in today’s forecast.

Santiago’s air pollution has taken a toll on public health. Emergency services saw a 23 percent increase in patient admissions, of which 80 percent were respiratory diseases. The city has also seen an unusually early presence of syncytial virus, which causes respiratory infections and can be fatal in children under six months old. Further alarming is the increasing rates of whooping cough, four times the usual rate to be exact, another threat to infants. To mitigate the rise of health issues in children, the city-issued Level 2 alarm suspends outdoor physical activity classes and cancels after-school events.

In addition to a growing population, an increase in car usage and a climate with nominal rain, Santiago is also doomed to air pollution because of its geological location. Set between mountains, the lack of wind also contributes to the settling of harmful pollutants.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today, Cities are More Congested than Ever, Why?

An article on CNN interviews Bill Ford on their efforts for efficient mobility in cities.
Bill Ford at TED conference on "Future Beyond Gridlocks"

Other presentations of interest at TED

Jaime Lerner on how he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape, with example of Curitiba, Brazil.

Robin Chase. She founded Zipcar, the world’s biggest car-sharing business. That was one of her smaller ideas. Here in this presentation she travels much farther, contemplating road-pricing schemes that will shake up our driving habits and an open-source mesh network vast as the Interstate.

Shai Agassi's plan for Electric Cars

Johan Rockstorm on letting the environment drive our development

Bicycle Rental Schemes Coming to 10 Indian Cities

Delhi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Pune, Jaipur, Pondicherry, Patna, Indore and Mumbai among others. Read more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - June 26th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on June 19th, 2011)

CNN, June 26th, 2011
Why the world faces a massive traffic jam?

AlterNet, June 26th, 2011
The New 30-Years' War: Who Will Be the Winners and Losers in the Great Global Energy Struggle to Come?

Lanka Business, June 26th, 2011
Growing urban population strains Chinese cities.

People's Daily, June 24th, 2011
Electric vehicles in Beijing will face more charging stations.

Financial Express, June 23rdm 2011
Most major cities violate air quality standards.

The Baltimore Sun, June 23rd, 2011
NASA flights could startle Maryland drivers.

VOA News, June 23rd, 2011
Asian Air Pollution Not Limited to Urban Areas.

AlterNet, June 23rd, 2011
Energy crisis threatens Asia - ADB.

The Pioneer, June 22nd, 2011
'Cars push up pollutants in metros'.

The Guardian, June 22nd, 2011
Are Londoners ready to die for their air quality?

The Pioneer, June 22nd, 2011
Cycling babu's green message.

NPR, June 21st, 2011
Air Quality Concerns Threaten Natural Gas's Image.

NPR, June 21st, 2011
Climate Change: Public Skeptical, Scientists Sure.

BBC, June 20th, 2011
Viewpoint: Urban leap-frogging in Asian cities.

Cabot, June 20th, 2011
Is There a Future for Natural Gas Vehicles?

Yale 360 Digest, June 20th, 2011
Pakistan Air Sensor Network Provides Rare Access to Pollution Data.

Grist Magazine, June 17th, 2011
1 million Bangladeshis use solar as sole source of electricity.

New York Times, June 16th, 2011
Mapping Sun’s Potential to Power New York.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Access to Air Pollution Data from Lahore, Pakistan

Post from Yale 360 digest.

A Pakistan university has installed a network of inexpensive air sensors across the city of Lahore that measure air quality and automatically upload the information onto an online database, a pilot project officials hope will widen access to air quality data in the developing nation. The project, known as the Volunteer Internet-based Environment Watch (VIEW), currently utilizes solar-powered sensors in seven locations citywide to provide real-time data on levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone, along with temperature, humidity, and dew point. The data is accessible online at

In the next five years, project head Jahangir Ikram hopes to expand the number of sensors in Lahore to more than 50 and also install sensors in some other Pakistani cities. The project was launched by the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), with funding from Pakistan’s Environmental Protection Department. “Data on air pollution in developing countries hardly exists and this is a way to get at that data,” said Agha Akram, a doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies who helped launch the program while at LUMS. “It’s not like you have to set up a big government bureaucracy.”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - June 19th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on June 12th, 2011)

National Academy of Sciences, June, 2011
Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles.

National Academy of Sciences, June, 2011
Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health.

Financial Express, June 19th, 2011
Air pollution in Dhaka city reaches alarming level.

Haaretz, June 19th, 2011
Researchers: Most air pollution in Israel comes from Europe.

China Daily, June 18th, 2011
More studies demanded on third runway impact.

Thanh Nein News, June 17th, 2011
Growing pollution threatens development in Vietnam.

The Tribune, June 17th, 2011
Karachi, are we going to be able to build castles on top of dung heaps?

Ecologist, June 17th, 2011
Black carbon: how reducing it could slow global warming and lift the Asian smog.

UNECE, June 17th, 2011
UNECE and WHO workshop promotes cycling and walking in cities.

Reuters, June 16th, 2011
In India, poor health risks rise after move to city.

Governance Now, June 15th, 2011
The plunder and blunder governance of Mumbai and how to stop it.

Climate-L, June 15th, 2011
WHO Launches “Health in the Green Economy” Report Series.

The Guardian, June 15th, 2011
UK ministers ignored 'peak oil' warnings.

York Region, June 15th, 2011
York Town employees embrace clean air initiatives.

Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, June15th, 2011
Artists paint for cleaner air.

Science Direct, June 14th, 2011
The Energy Debate: Coal Vs. Nuclear.

AlterNet, June 14th, 2011
Why Stephen King Can Help Save Us From Climate Change.

Philippines Information Agency, June 14th, 2011
No exposed soil policy in MM- DENR.

Press TV, June 14th, 2011
Iran blames Iraq for sandstorms, pollution.

Financial Times, June 14th, 2011
Scientists urge curbing ‘black carbon’.

UN News Center, June14th, 2011
Cutting smog and soot could have fast and broad benefits.

Waste Management World, June 14th, 2011
Vietnam Looking to Develop Environment-Friendly Transport System.

Guardian, June 14th, 2011
UN – curbing black carbon would bring dramatic, quick benefits to all.

CNN, June 13th, 2011
Clinton takes role in fighting domestic killer.

NY Times, June 13th, 2011
GAO Faults Tall Smokestacks at Coal Plants.

Center for American Progress, June 13th, 2011
American Electric Power’s Dirty Trick.

ECN, June 13th, 2011
Research on the road to green car.

China Daily, June 10th, 2011
Electric vehicle batteries 'must improve'.

China Dialogue, June 9th, 2011
A two-wheeled future?

China Dialogue, June 8th, 2011
Between rail and road in Beijing.

Xinhua Net, June 8th, 2011
Emission cutting gear to be tested in Hong Kong.

How Bad is Spending Time on the Road?

It is killing me, says a report in May, 2011, in Slate Magazine, which examined the social intricacies linking the travel patterns in growing number of cities. Some excerpts from the report are listed below.

Commuting is a migraine-inducing life-suck—a mundane task about as pleasurable as assembling flat-pack furniture or getting your license renewed, and you have to do it every day. If you are commuting, you are not spending quality time with your loved ones. You are not exercising, doing challenging work, having sex, petting your dog, or playing with your kids (or your Wii). You are not doing any of the things that make human beings happy. Instead, you are getting nauseous on a bus, jostled on a train, or cut off in traffic.

The Clean Air Initiative in Manila, Philippines, released "Walkability Assessment in 13 Asian Cities". The average walkability rating for the 13 cities was 58 out of 100. Cities included in the survey are Cebu, Davao and Manila (Philippines), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), Hong Kong and Lanzhou (China), Jakarta (Indonesia), Karachi (Pakistan), Kathmandu (Nepal), Kota (India) and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia).

“A sad fact is that there is a wide gap between investments made by cities for pedestrians and for motorized vehicles. Asian cities have traditionally been cities of walkers. If pedestrian facilities are more integrated and made comfortable, more people will choose to walk instead of drive resulting to less fuel consumption and less air pollution,” says Bert Fabian, Transport Program Manager of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities.

Which direction are we heading? These do not include the impacts due to daily exposure to high and toxic emissions from the vehicle exhaust and the road dust.

BBC ran an article on June 9th, 2009, "Road particles (PM) pose higher health risk". In a growing number of cities, especially in the developing countries, along the major roads, the contribution of transport sector is the main culprit to pollution exposure problems (source apportionment).

Previous posts on transport emissions, air pollution, and health

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rising Off-Grid Urban Challenges in India !!

From the New York Times, June 8th, 2011

"To compensate for electricity blackouts, Gurgaon’s companies and real estate developers operate massive diesel generators capable of powering small towns. No water? Drill private borewells. No public transportation? Companies employ hundreds of private buses and taxis. Worried about crime? Gurgaon has almost four times as many private security guards as police officers"

Clearly there is no one right answer to any of these questions or one strategy for all urban challenges. As the bureaucracy will have it, there is no single department which can address all.

A most common answer we hear for all problems in a city is transport. Oh, the number of cars on road are increasing every day. The fuel prices are going up, congestion is increasing, travel times are increasing. But, not much attention is put on what's happening in the other sectors and what can be done. Here is an article from Reuters on June 16th, 2011, explaining how the health risks are increasing among the migrants from the rural to urban areas.

In India, Poor Health Risks Rise after Moving to City
(Reuters, June 16th, 2011)

Body fat, blood pressure and fasting insulin levels (a marker of diabetes risk) all increased within a decade of moving to a city, and for decades blood pressure and insulin continued to rise above the levels of their rural counterparts. The findings raise public health concerns as the global population progressively becomes more urban.

According to the United Nations, the growth change in India's urban population is 1.1 percent each year, while the change in the proportion of people in rural areas is declining by 0.37 percent.

I don't think we are here to discourage families from buying cars. If this is what is expected to make a mark in the society, then, by all means, if he/she has resources, they should by a car or a motorcycle. Our interest (from an air quality perspective) is in reducing the usage, so less emissions, meaning less pollution, and blue skies. Now, the question is, when will the various departments realize (and who will remind them) that it is not the roads or the highways that we need more, but alternative and safer modes of transport?

From the New York Times, June 14th, 2011

A booming suburb of New Delhi has become the symbol for development in India. It seems to have everything, except a functioning citywide sewer, reliable electricity or water, or decent roads.

What happens to (any) city transport, say tomorrow morning, the bus fleets tripled or quadrupled - how will the public react? They may be slow to adjust, but will they adjust and change their ways?

This is in fact an excellent single question survey - Will you change ways if there were more buses?

The question in cities like Gurgaon, which is undergoing rapid expansion, is lack of infrastructure to support the expansion. Even though, there is limited power supply in those parts, you will not see power shortages, because everything runs on DG sets.

Look at Mumbai. The video below doesn't show anything out of normal - as far as the Mumbai train operations and the concerned folks there. The rush is same as what I saw in 1996 and it is still the same. In 1996, the roads were a bit more empty than they are now, but the trains are the same. This is normal operations for the city and I do not think anybody is going to complain as long as the trains are running. That's livable for them.

What can we improve here from an air quality perspective? My personal opinion will be nothing much, unless there is a program to increase the current metro availability and use it to significantly increase the passenger usage - hoping that more of the cars and motorcycle passengers will shift.

In case of Delhi, these shifts could be significant in the coming years, because the metro system is new - just about getting coverage and people are recognizing the benefits. Same will be true for other cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore which are experiencing an increasing push for a metro system - hopefully, 5 to 10 years more.

Coming back to the cities and air pollution, lets get more specific, pollution along the roads, we have a mix of things - one from vehicle exhaust and one from dust on the roads. I see a lot of talk and discussions on vehicle exhaust and how we need to tighten fuel economy and emission standards, but no body talks about the dust on the roads. How often do we see this in discussions? Don't we have enough studies to show a significant amount of pollution in the cities is because of the re-suspension of dust on the roads? I understand that the re-suspension is because of the moving vehicles on the road, but what if, there was no dust on the roads to begin with?

Wet sweeping people, something done very rarely, but an effectively one. Who will listen to this? And who's responsibility is it to tell the city officials to do this, so that pollution is less?

Last year, at the entrance of the Palika Bazaar in Connaught place, the Delhi officials unveiled a giant air purifier. The European manufacturer, System Life, and their Indian business counterparts claim that this is the next innovative approach to clean the air and it is here for the better health of Delhites. What a joke that was... read more.

Environmental cartoonist Marc Roberts has graciously agreed and created a piece "Waiting to Exhale", based on a note "jumbo size vacuum cleaners to purify urban air?" I wrote with regards to a giant vacuum cleaner that Delhi Municipality installed in Central Delhi in March, 2010.

So, as an air group, what are we doing or where do we fit in?

We are not urban planners, so we will be not able to tell which road to build and which to not, but can estimate possible damages or benefits of a road on air quality. This is probably the least of the concerns for most of the road designers. But, what if, plans recommend to take care of the road dust?

As a air group, we can tell cities that they need a better waster management system, because unwanted garbage burning adds to air pollution, but cannot suggest how to manage waste. Point being, how do you influence change - sector by sector?

Of course, keeping in mind that there are no cookie cutter solutions and these will change from city to city. Nonetheless, the local good and a common denominator is better air quality.

Simplifying things to what can actually be managed (a) dust on the roads (b) garbage burning and (c) generator usage?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - June 12th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on June 5th, 2011)

Newsweek, June 12th, 2011
A Roadmap for the Planet., June 11th, 2011
Asian green city index.

Vietnam News, June 11th, 2011
Plan to cut transport pollution in Vietnam.

Clean Tech, June 10th, 2011
Urban Planning Can Reduce Air Pollution in Poor Countries.

PE, June 10th, 2011
INLAND: Air quality officials outline 20-year clean-air strategy.

Hindustan Times, June 10th, 2011
India to study impact of bad environment on health.

Malaya Business Insight, June 10th, 2011
Walk, don’t run.

China Daily, June 10th, 2011
Electric vehicle batteries 'must improve'.

China Daily, June 9th, 2011
Cycling: a way to make a contribution and help the environment.

Financial Express, June 9th, 2011
Control per capita exhaust.

Eco-Business, June 9th, 2011
Vietnam investing heavily in high-tech coal plants.

AFP, June 9th, 2011
In Kabul, air pollution a bigger killer than war.

BBC, June 9th, 2011
London Olympics 2012: Air quality row may hit games.

All Africa, June 8th, 2011
Fifteen African Nations Embarking On Climate-Smart Development to Attend the 2011 Climate Investment Fund Partnership Forum (AfDB).

Durango Herald, June 8th, 2011
Seeing through the haze not always easy here.

The Energy Collective, June 8th, 2011
How China Can Advance Sustainable Development Globally.

Phil Star, June 8th, 2011
Of other Road killers and BRT benefits in Manila.

UCAR, June 7th, 2011
Paved surfaces can foster build-up of polluted air.

The Guardian, June 7th, 2011
What is the emissions trading scheme and does it work?

The Guardian, June 6th, 2011
Natural gas is no climate change 'panacea', warns IEA.

Clean Air Portal, June 7th, 2011
Green Freight Makes Headways in China.

Daily Monitor, June 7th, 2011
Kampala chokes on pollution.

IPS, June 6th, 2011
Bike vs Car on a Hot Planet.

National Journal, June 6th, 2011
Should EPA Delay Its Air-Pollution Rules?

China.Org, June 5th, 2011
China's steel giant reports pollution reductions.

Alter Net, June 3rd, 2011
Death By Pollution: How the Obama Administration Just Put Thousands of Lives at Risk.

AP, June 3rd, 2011
China says addressing pollution in Inner Mongolia.

Reuters, June 3rd, 2011
China gives bleak assessment of its battered environment.

Alter Net, June 2nd, 2011
Does Obama Have the Guts to Stand Up to Fossil Fuel Energy Interests?

Yale 360, June 2nd, 2011
Forum: Is Extreme Weather Linked to Global Warming?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Air Pollution in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

The doctoral thesis titled ‘Urban Climate and Air Pollution in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’ submitted by Jenny Lindén from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg demonstrates that climate conditions of a city lend to increased levels of pollution. It also claims that improved awareness about pollution assists in controlling and restoring climate conditions. From Azo Clean Tech, June 11th, 2011

Link to thesis work.

The research finds that most of the population occurs only in poor cities, which in turn has a bearing over the air quality and urban climate. It has found that the population in Ouagadougou, a city in western Africa close to Sahara Desert, is growing rapidly and anticipated to reach an alarming level of 3.4 million in 2020 from its current level of around 2 million.

According to a report from World Health Organization, around 20% of all deaths in Burkina Faso occurred due to respiratory problems caused by air pollution and the percentage will go up due to increasing levels of population. Ouagadougou suffers from increased level of pollution due to dusty winds blowing from Sahara Desert and dust generated from the unpaved roads. The country has a good number of old and badly maintained cars and two wheelers and nearly three-fourth of families cook food using an open fire. Rich people who live in cities are not much exposed to pollution; they use new vehicles, have paved roads and use non-polluting modalities to cook food. Ouagadougou‘s situation is similar to other poor cities in the world.

According to Jenny Lindén, Ouagadougou has a typical climate with lower level of temperatures during night at areas with good amount of vegetation, which can be considered as an efficient way to reduce night-time heat stress in city planning. The air over Ouagadougou stay static and pollutants occurring during the evening hours trap the emissions. These studies can be used to plan strategies to enhance the air quality in poorest countries of the world.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Health Benefits of Active Transportation in New York City

NYCDH (2011), "Health Benefits of Active Transportation in New York City," New York City Department of Health.

This four-page report describes the health benefits of active transportation in New York City. The analysis indicates that people who commute by walking, cycling or public transit achieve about twice as total exercise as automobile commuters, and so are much more likely to achieve physical activity targets. This survey can be a model for use in other communities interested in tracking physical fitness and health.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Air Pollution in Kabul Kills 3,000 People Every Year

from AFP, June 9th, 2011
KABUL — War may kill thousands of civilians a year in Afghanistan, but choking air pollution in the capital Kabul is more deadly, experts say.

Signs of the silent killer -- pollutants emitted by old cars, poor quality fuel and people burning trash -- are everywhere on the city's chaotic streets.

Men walking or cycling usually cover their mouths with masks or scarves to keep out the dust. Women clasp blue burkhas to their faces.

"It's not possible to stay healthy without a mask," said Ahmad Wali, a pharmacist who wears his every day, even when working in his store.

"People are stuck with a very big problem. It's difficult to reduce pollution quickly. We have to breathe this air."

The city's primitive and over-stretched hospitals are forced to treat ever increasing numbers of people with respiratory problems.

"I've been sick for three years," said Malalai, an Afghan mother of nine being treated at the Jamhuriat hospital, one of the city's biggest.

"When I talk, I get breathless after two or three minutes. I have chest pains when I try to breathe. I can't walk or stand for a long time and I have no energy."

The figures are stark. Around 3,000 people per year die of air pollution in Kabul, the National Environment Protection Agency said last year.

By comparison, the United Nations says that 2,777 civilians were killed in the war across Afghanistan in 2010.

There are several main causes of air pollution, but underpinning them all is Kabul's rapid expansion as people fled to the capital in search of relative stability amid fighting in many rural areas.

The city was designed for about one million people but is now home to around five million, a figure which the Kabul municipality says has doubled in six years.

Many of the new arrivals live in illegally built slum homes and Kabul's infrastructure struggles to cope.

The city's roads are usually jammed with old and poorly maintained cars imported illegally from countries like Canada, Germany and the United States, often spewing out fumes which are the by-product of poor quality fuel.

Many of the roads are unpaved, meaning that when the cars can move, they throw up dust which adds to the poor air quality.

Households often rely on diesel generators for electricity, while businesses like brick factories and public baths also use them.

During bitterly cold winters, local people often burn anything they can get hold of, including old tyres and plastic, as they struggle to keep warm.

The health ministry estimates that the number of Afghans suffering from respiratory problems has trebled over six years to around 480,000.

Officials admit they are finding it hard to get on top of the problem given the magnitude of issues facing Afghanistan after three decades of war and nearly 10 years after the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban.

Last year, they made Thursdays official holidays in Kabul -- in addition to Fridays -- in a bid to reduce air pollution. A resolution has also been passed to ban businessmen importing old cars.

The mayor's office insists the move has had a "very good effect" in stopping pollution getting worse but could not provide any figures.

"Government vehicles are not allowed to (be used) on holidays and that prevents all the vehicles from moving and is a big help for decreasing the pollution," said spokesman Mohammad Ishaq Samadi.

But Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, a senior advisor to the National Environment Protection Agency, said: "We're still struggling to put environmental issues and the environment as a priority in national and international strategies.

"The country was at war for the past 30 years and there was very little control over the environment, there was no environmental protection at all."

Doctors warn that unless action is taken, Kabul faces serious problems.

Erfanullah Shifa, a doctor at the Jamhuriat hospital, said up to 20 people a day were registering with respiratory problems.

"If air pollution keeps rising the way it is now, Afghan people will face a health disaster in the near future," Shifa said.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What is the Emissions Trading Scheme?

From The Guardian, June 7th, 2011
What is the emissions trading scheme and does it work?


The European Union's Emissions Trading System (ETS) is the world's biggest scheme for trading greenhouse gas emissions allowances. Launched in 2005, it covers some 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 30 countries, whose carbon emissions make up almost 50% of Europe's total.

A cap on the total emissions allowed within the scheme is set, and allowances adding up to the cap are provided to the companies regulated by the scheme. The companies are required to measure and report their carbon emissions and to hand in one allowance for each tonne they release. Companies can trade their allowances, providing an incentive for them to reduce their emissions.

The current cap is set to fall by 1.74% annually to achieve a target of reducing emissions in 2020 to 21% below their level in 2005. In June 2011 the price of an allowance was around €16. The trade in permits is worth around $150bn annually, dwarfing other emissions trading schemes (the Clean Development Mechanism market established by the UN is valued at $1.5bn annually).

In a basic sense the ETS has worked. It has set a cap on half of Europe's carbon emissions, which were previously unregulated, and the companies covered by the scheme are no longer free to pollute. Carbon has a price and this influences the economics of burning fossil fuels.

For example, burning coal creates more carbon pollution than burning gas, so coal plant operators need more permits. The higher the price of the permits, the more expensive it is to use coal rather than gas. Power companies choosing how to generate electricity therefore have an extra cost associated with the more polluting options, so they'll choose gas over coal more of the time.

Putting precise numbers on how far the ETS has worked in practice is difficult, as it means estimating what the level of pollution would have been if the ETS was not in place. It is likely, however, that in its first few years, the scheme was responsible for turning an anticipated increase in emissions into a decline of 2.5-5%. One in-depth study analysed background emissions, economic trends and weather patterns, and concluded that between 2005 and 2007 the ETS reduced emissions by 120-300m tonnes, with a best guess of 210m tonnes across Europe.

These are fairly modest gains – especially in the context of rapidly of increasing imports of carbon-intensive goods from China and elsewhere – and although steeper reductions have been set for the third 'phase' of the ETS, which runs from 2013 to 2020, the policy has been heavily criticised and beset with problems, not least of which is the large number of permits expected to be held over from the current phase. Nonetheless, Europe has a price on carbon and a working mechanism to limit and reduce climate pollution, which puts it further ahead than other major regions in the world.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Air Pollution in Kampala

From Kampala Daily Monitor, June 7th, 2011


The number of respiratory tract infections in Kampala has soared in the last five years – a warning that air pollution is rapidly becoming a serious environmental threat.

Several studies have linked mounting respiratory tract infections such as asthma and chronic bronchitis to air pollution. The effects can be extremely serious. Research shows a connection between air pollution and lung cancer, and suggests it may contribute to childhood mortality.

Mulago Hospital, for instance, admitted about 2,500 people with asthma in 2009/2010, up from 1,899 the previous two years. People who suffer the condition have little doubt that the reason is Kampala’s dirty air. “When I am in Gulu, I rarely use my inhaler and worry less about taking recaution, but when in Kampala my attacks are very frequent and I have to keep replacing my inhaler three times a year,” says Alice Oneka, a 24 year-old fashion designer.

Ms Oneka has relocated her garment shop from Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb with many industries, to her home in Mengo, where she feels there is less dust and pollution. According to a recent World Bank report titled: “Sub-Saharan Refinery Project Health Study”, the prevalence rate of asthma in children 8-13 is 26 per cent in Uganda. By contrast, it was just 10 per cent in South Africa.

Air pollution causes a range of problems that people take lightly but can lead to serious health threats over time, says Mr John C. Ssempebwa, the head of Disease Control and Environment Health at Makerere University School of Public Health. According to Mr Ssempebwa, the health complications include chest pains, sleep disorder, stress and abnormal heart beats.

Old cars
At the heart of this problem lies Kampala’s growing fleet of aging vehicles, which emit dangerous gases. The World Bank study found that vehicles contributed the highest volume of air pollutants in Uganda, followed by domestically burned wood and charcoal and industrial sources ranked third.

The problem is made worse by Kampala’s mounting incidence of traffic jams. A 1991 study by the Makerere University Department of Geography estimated that vehicles burned 12,270,000 litres of fuel unnecessarily due to congestion. That was the equivalent of Shs4,564 million in 1991. The study has not been updated, but the figures are certain to be much worse given the sharp increase in the number of vehicles – now estimated at 7.3 per cent per year – and the soaring price of fuel.

Dr Paul Isolo Mukwaya, a lecturer at Makerere University Department of Geography, says the problem is especially serious in Kampala because of the large number of old vehicles whose engines can no longer fully burn fuel, but instead emit unburnt fuel in form of soot and harmful gases.

Data from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) reveals that most cars imported into the country are 10 or more years old. To make matters worse, the old vehicles rarely receive routine maintenance once they are on the road. The lack of maintenance is especially a problem for taxis, which constitute a substantial portion of vehicles in Kampala.

The lack of maintenance is hardly surprising. Mini-bus operators rarely own the vehicles they drive, and are more interested in making profits than keeping the vehicles in good mechanical condition.

The air pollution problem it is almost certain to get worse. The National Development Plan 2010-2015 estimates that Uganda’s population will increase to 60 million in the next 22 years – almost double its current size. Combined with economic growth, that almost ensures that the number of vehicles on the roads – and with them, the amount of pollutants pumped into the air – will soar.

For now, the government is hardly prepared to tackle this problem. To date, there is no comprehensive scientific data on the state of air quality in the country or in Kampala, not even at the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

Air quality standards
There is also no national air quality standards. Nema has barely started drafting air quality standards for the country. Mr Grace Birikadde, the environment audit and monitoring officer at Nema, says efforts to draft the national air quality standards were halted so that the newly-emerging oil sector could play a role in the process.

“The oil sector being a potential contributor to air quality, the process of drafting the national air quality standards was halted with a view of comprehensively capturing, analysing and incorporating air quality issues of oil and gas into the national air quality standards,” Mr Birikadde explains.

Some steps could be taken even before air quality standards are adopted. Environmentalists have urged government to invest in less air polluting public transport like buses and encouraging non-motorised means of transport like walking. The government has promised buses for the past 10 years but has not delivered them yet.

Himalayan Meltdown (Documentary by UNDP)

The Himalayas are the frozen water tower of Asia. Their glaciers are the source of water for the Ganges, Yellow, Mekong, Yangtze and Indus rivers. Revealed: Himalayan Meltdown, a 45-minute documentary co-produced by theUnited Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Arrowhead Films, examines theshrinking glaciers of the Himalayas and the impacts on the lives and livelihoods of people in Asia.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Air Pollution Alerts - June 5th, 2011

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on May 29th, 2011)

Express Buzz, June 5th, 2011
CNG or not, Delhi remains pollution hotspot.

Financial Express, June 5th, 2011
India Inc expands its green footprint.

The Daily Star, June 5th, 2011
Industries must run ETPs in Bangladesh.

The Tribune, June 5th, 2011
Facing the environment challenges before us.

Express Buzz, June 4th, 2011
AIADMK revives Chennai Monorail Project.

Times of India, June 4th, 2011
IGL to hike natural gas price by Rs 0.50/kg in Delhi, India.

The Hindu, June 4th, 2011
Mobile ambient air quality monitoring unit to keep tab on pollution.

Hindustan Times, June 4th, 2011
Choke city.

Republica, June 4th, 2011
Cleaner & greener Kathmandu?

Hindustan Times, June 3rd, 2011
Air pollution forecast in the offing.

The Guardian, June 3rd, 2011
When energy-saving does not mean saving energy.

The Guardian, June 3rd, 2011
A report card for China's environment.

Phys.Org, June 3rd, 2011
Tiny particles, big impact.

The Grist Magazine, June 2nd, 2011
How bicycles are fighting illiteracy and empowering women in India.

NPR, June 2nd, 2011
Fracking Brings Jobs And Pollution To Town.

New Age News, June 2nd, 2011
Dhaka’s air most polluted in world.

BBC, June 2nd, 2011
Climate to wreak havoc on food supply, predicts report.

Dawn News, June 2nd, 2011
Pakistan largest CNG user.

China Dialogue, June 2nd, 2011
Confronting China's industrial ghosts.

Science Daily, June 1st, 2011
New NASA Map Reveals Tropical Forest Carbon Storage.

The Guardian, June 1st, 2011
World Bank warns of 'failing' international carbon market.

The Guardian, June 1st, 2011
10 steps to tackle climate change.

The Hindu, June 1st, 2011
What's ailing Chennai?

New York Times, June 1st, 2011
Smog Hinders Hong Kong’s Hiring Efforts.

New York Times, June 1st, 2011
World Bank to Help Cities Control Climate Change.

The Standard, May 31st, 2011
Warning aired over expat exodus in Hong Kong.

China Dialogue, May 31st, 2011
Bhutan’s modern face - Urbanization and Climate Change in Bhutan.

Environmental Technology, May 31st, 2011
Air monitoring shows alarming rise in CO2.

News One, May 31st, 2011
India should deregulate diesel price: Planning Commission.

The Economic Times, May 31st, 2011
China to tighten emission rules for commercial vehicles.

China Daily, May 31st, 2011
Time to separate treasure from trash.

China Daily, May 31st, 2011
WHO hopes China strengthen tobacco industry control.

China Daily, May 31st, 2011
Industry faces rising power cost.

Xinhua Net, May 31st, 2011
Beijing sees most "blue sky days" in 10 years in May.

All Africa, May 31st, 2011
Tough New Pollution Rules for Car Owners in Kenya.

China Briefing, May 30th, 2011
China as a Role Model for Green Economic Development., May 30th, 2011
A Tale of Two Mongolias.

Santiago Times, May 29th, 2011
Year’s First Pre-Emergency Environmental Alert Issued For Santiago.

Xinhua Net, May 28th, 2011
Love wind, fear wind: growing pains of China's wind power industry.

China Daily, May 26th, 2011
China to invest 6.2t yuan in transportation.

China Daily, May 19th, 2011
China wants to be global leader in electric vehicles.