From: Michael Casey, Associated Press
Published December 13, 2006 12:00 AM

Asian Leaders Call for Tougher Measures to Combat Air Pollution

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia -- Asia must impose tighter regulations on emissions and fuel efficiency standards to combat air pollution that contributes to some half-a-million premature deaths annually, Asian ministers and environmentalists said Wednesday.

The meeting in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta heard how Asia's rapid economic development has turned the region into the one of the world's most polluted, with scores of cities scarred and darkened by choking, dirty air.

"There are hundreds of millions of children and adults suffering from air pollution in Asia," said Andrew Steers, the World Bank's country director in Indonesia. "It's not necessary and it's our job to do something about it. We are winning lots of battles but we are not winning the war."

With Asia's roads clogged with millions of new vehicles and scores of coal-fired power plants coming on line to drive the region's economies, experts called for governments to toughen air quality regulations while boosting their investment in public transport, energy efficiency measures and alternative energy sources like wind power and solar energy.

"It is our collective responsibility to identify and follow a sustainable path to economic development," said Bindu Lohani, director general of the Asian Development Bank's Regional and Sustainable Development Department.

"This must include new approaches to transport and mobility, stronger enforcement of air quality regulations coupled with innovative policies like emission trading regimes, stricter fuel quality requirements and tighter vehicle fuel efficiency standards."

Source: Associated Press

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