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Workshop urges action on air pollution in Southeast Asia

Following a workshop on air pollution in Southeast Asia on February 23-24, 2016 in Manila, Philippines, our Transport Working Group reports on overcoming barriers to the successful implementation of vehicle emission standards, and the urgency of the task.

Most countries realize the need to address vehicle emissions once they recognize that the air quality in their cities is worsening. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.7 million premature deaths resulted from outdoor air pollution in 2012. This is a public health concern in cities where the major share of air pollution is attributed to vehicle emissions. In the Southeast Asia region, 36% of the share of air pollution comes from traffic. The share of air pollution in the region can be expected to grow worse as the number of vehicles is expected to significantly increase based on the business as usual scenario.

Additionally, there is an urgency to mitigate emissions because transport sector emissions are growing faster than any other sector. In Asia, it is especially urgent to reduce emissions because the projected increases are expected to come from this region. In the business as usual scenario, it is projected that Asia’s share of global transport emissions will increase to 31% by 2030. Fuel quality and vehicle emission standards are key for improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,

The Low Emissions Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP)’s Transport Working Group, the United National Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Clean Air Asia, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines (DENR), conducted a regional workshop on February 23-24, 2016 in Manila, Philippines. The workshop brought together more than 55 participants from cities around the world to support the implementation and advancement of vehicle emission policies in Southeast Asia. The objective of the workshop was to identify opportunities and strategies in overcoming of barriers for the successful implementation of vehicle emission standards, and set the basis for sustaining the cooperation between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries towards the harmonization of standards. The Philippines was the ideal location to host the workshop as the country had recently moved towards Euro 4/IV vehicle emission standards that was placed into effect in January 2016.

Content of workshop

In addition to the global and regional overview of vehicle emission standards, country representatives from within the ASEAN region briefly shared the status of vehicle emissions standards in their respective countries. Country representatives from outside of the ASEAN region presented case studies on their experiences on advancing vehicle emission standards and on lessons learned from implementation challenges. Participants –government agencies, technical institutions, academe, non-governmental organizations, and private sector (e.g. auto industry) – also contributed to the thought-provoking, facilitated discussions on the topic.

The majority of the discussions and presentations were centered on why improving fuel quality and vehicle emissions standards is important to improving air quality and mitigating climate change impacts. Participants also discussed why these policies need to be embedded in the broader Avoid-Shift-Improve (A-S-I) framework – avoid the need for motorized travel, shift trips to the most sustainable mode, and improve existing technologies and systems – to increase mobility and also to shift toward low-carbon, efficient public transport and non-motorized transport.

Next Steps

This workshop laid the foundation for the participants make the case in their countries about why there is an urgent need advance vehicle emission policies and how to implement these policies in Southeast Asia. The attendees left with a better understanding of the urgency to advance these policies due to the worsening air quality, health impacts and the increase of greenhouse gas emissions in the region; examples of policies and technologies related to vehicle emission standards; and a network of peers in the region with whom they are able to ask for support and share experiences and knowledge.

About the LEDS GP Transport Working Group

LEDS GP Transport Working Group is led by team of international transport experts from the World Resources Institute, the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are leading the activities in collaboration with the LEDS GP regional platforms. Activities include building of a transport community, supporting champions and innovators, creating networks of experts on low-emission transport, and exploring opportunities for collaboration at local and regional levels.

This report was originally posted on the Asia LEDS Partnership website here: Workshop supports the implementation and advancement of vehicle emission policies in Southeast Asia.

Image credit: Asian Development Bank

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