Air pollution is common, particularly in developing country cities, due
to the growing number of motor vehicles and increasing industrial activity.
In countries such as India, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia and Thailand vehicles
with two-stroke engines, such as motorcycles and three-wheel taxis, comprise
more than one-half of all motor traffic and pollute heavily. Poor maintenance
of vehicles, poor fuel quality and poor road conditions also contribute.
The burning of biomass such as firewood and agricultural wastes is a further
source of air pollution in many poor areas (World Bank 2000).
Motor vehicles cause serious environmental problems in developed countries
as well. In Australia and New Zealand, there is a high dependence on private
motor vehicles which leads not only to the need to clear land for roads
but also to increasing emissions of carbon dioxide, lead, zinc and copper
(Hughes and Pugsley 1998, MoE New Zealand 1997).
A range of policy measures and technologies including catalytic converters,
unleaded fuel and alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas are
being introduced to improve the quality of urban air. New coal-fired power
plants in many Asian countries now use electrostatic precipitators which
can reduce emissions of particulates by more than 99 per cent. Subsidies
are provided for the use of renewable technologies such as wind turbines
and solar photovoltaics. In China, the city of Beijing has implemented
68 atmospheric pollution prevention measures which are resulting in significant
reductions in SO2, NO2 and SPM levels (SEPA 1999).
|Urbanization level (%): Asia and
|Urban populations (millions) by sub-region:
Asia and the Pacific
Graph and map show high level of urbanization
in Australia and New Zealand compared with other subregions. Urbanization
is proceeding fast in all other subregions except Central Asia
Source: compiled from United Nations Population