Air Transport World

Asia's environmental divide.(ECO-AVIATION)

THE ASIA/PACIFIC REGION'S RESPONSE to the emerging and sometimes heated debate on aviation's role in contributing to climate change is divided, reflecting the vast cultural and socioeconomic differences among nations that collectively are home to a third of the world's human population and 26% of its GDP. A few countries display an environmental sensibility that would not be out of place in Western Europe, but the region is also home to states that still tolerate harmful and destructive practices such as the setting of fires and the clear-cutting of rain forests for cropland, wasteful resource management and land use and acceptance of high levels of water contamination.

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Moreover, the region's emerging economic colossuses, China and India, have made it clear that protecting and improving the environment will not come at the expense of economic growth as they try to lift billions of their citizens out of poverty.

Thus, the role of commercial aviation in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, which is very small, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is even less of a factor here given the vast amount of air pollution spewing forth from lightly regulated factories and power providers.

This is unlikely to change in the near future. The Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations at a Dec. 13, 2007, meeting issued a statement that recognized "that climate change poses serious risks and challenges to developing countries" and called for "urgent global actions and responses to address climate change," but cautioned that this must be on the "basis of the principles of equity, flexibility, effectiveness and common but differentiated responsibilities, respective capacities, as well as reflecting on different social and economic conditions. …

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