Can developing countries be allowed to pollute as much as we, rich countries, have polluted?
Before being partially engulfed by the deluge of rain that flooded 75% of the Indonesian capital in early February, Jakarta had already had its share of bad news. One of them, which concerns air pollution, would make flooding almost enviable: according to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), air pollution in major cities in Asia is responsible, each year, the premature death of 500 people. With its anarchic urbanization, its 000 to 9 million inhabitants and its eternal traffic jams, Jakarta is directly concerned.
In 1940 there was only one megalopolis in the world, New York. Today, 14 of the top 17 cities with more than 8 million inhabitants are in developing countries. These tens of millions of individuals must travel every day from one end of their immense cities to the other. They will be more and more numerous: in India, some experts predict that 300 million Indians will leave the rural areas for the cities in the ten years to come. “The growth of Asia, in terms of population, urbanization, motorization and energy consumption remains a fundamental challenge for the fight against atmospheric pollution”, underlined the ADB in December 2006.
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