The review, which started on 2008 and initially focused on sustainable transport (http://cleanairinitiative.org/portal/node/4029), has now expanded to include air quality and climate events. It is an opportunity to look back and understand where Asia focused in the past year and foresee the emerging trends in Asia in the coming years.

The message for 2011 is clear. Policymakers need to understand that sustainable city as such is an important development issue. It is clear that a city can grow its economy while at the same time preserving blue skies and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is a need for this urgent transformation. Asian cities are set to populate with 500 million Asians in the next decades. It is a huge challenge, a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity.

Read the full report here: http://cleanairinitiative.org/portal/node/7045

The main highlights for the 2010 Year in Review are:

In last half a decade, climate change concerns started dominating discussions on transport and air quality and this trend continued in 2010. While the newspapers and conferences across Asia highlighted the term “low carbon”, many across Asia decided to own vehicles. Record-high vehicles sales were observed in several Asian countries in 2010 as countries recorded robust economic recovery, greater stability but deteriorating public transport accessibility and mobility. Air quality across Asia remained a reason for big concern in year 2010 with latest research indicating that 80% of global population lives in areas above WHO guideline for PM2.5.

Year 2010 will also be remembered for initiatives taken during “international events and games”. While athletes across Asia were competing to break records, policy makers were driving massive funds towards various initiatives. Governments utilized events like Shanghai World EXPO, Delhi Commonwealth games and Guangzhou Asian games to create long term infrastructure for air quality monitoring, public and non motorized transport and vehicle movement. While, lessons learnt from Beijing Olympics were utilized to make short drastic improvements in cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and New Delhi, traffic congestion in Beijing however created a new record with a nine day long 100km traffic jam.

Countries across Asia are plotting different plans for “fuel”. The Indian government freed petrol from all pricing controls and thus unleashed a craze for diesel which was kept under government control and underpriced. While 13 big cities in India moved to Euro-4 fuel to reduce the pollution, rest of India had to contend with Euro-3 fuel and no action plan for future. Pakistan, Vietnam and Philippines decided to finally act and discuss with various stakeholders to create a roadmap for Euro-4 fuel with reduced sulfur content. While the debate across Asia was on cleaner fuel, Sri Lanka decided to make vehicles more accessible to people. It was a step back and a big setback as it slashed duties on cars, among others, with immediate effect in a bid to boost post-war economic activity.

As in the past few years, BRTS was the main driver for public transport and new cities like Guangzhou and Bangkok launched new BRT systems. Nearly 82 such systems are being planned or being initiated in Asia. A concept which sprouted in Latin America is being truly harvested in Asia. There is no need to celebrate yet. Surveys conducted in 2010 have found the accessibility to such massive public transport systems and even normal bus systems to be very poor.

Queries, feedback, or suggestions welcome.