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sign on: urge better emissions controls in WB handbook

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  • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
    ... From: sustran-discuss-bounces+ecoplan.adsl=wanadoo.fr@list.jca.apc.org [mailto:sustran-discuss-bounces+ecoplan.adsl=wanadoo.fr@list.jca.apc.org ] On Behalf
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2004


      -----Original Message-----
      From: sustran-discuss-bounces+ecoplan.adsl=wanadoo.fr@... [mailto:sustran-discuss-bounces+ecoplan.adsl=wanadoo.fr@...] On Behalf Of Lisa Peterson
      Sent: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 1:59 AM
      To: 'Asia and the Pacific sustainable transport'
      Subject: [sustran] sign on: urge better emissions controls in WB handbook


      Dear all,


      As many of you know, the World Bank has been developing a draft handbook to provide guidance to countries dealing with vehicle-related pollution problems.  (available at http://www.cleanairnet.org/cai/1403/article-56396.html)


      While the handbook has several good recommendations relating to traffic demand management, modal shift, bus priority and elimination of leaded gasoline, it misses the mark on the key issue of fuel and vehicle standards.


      Please join the NRDC, ITDP and other groups in urging the World Bank to revise this flawed document to include more appropriate recommendations for fuel and vehicle standards.  The sign-on letter, to Bank President James D. Wolfensohn and the Board of Directors, is available at www.itdp.org/read/wbhandbooksignon.doc and pasted in this email below.


      As it stands, the draft Handbook aids those who wish to derail or delay efforts to improve fuel equality and reduce emissions.  It overemphasizes obstacles to implementing improved standards while providing little guidance to government ready to reduce their mobile source emissions.


      To sign on, please email or call me at lpeterson@... or 212-629-8001 by Wednesday, April 7.




      Lisa Peterson


      Communications Director

      Institute for Transportation and Development Policy


      Subscribe to Sustainable Transport: www.itdp.org


      115 West 30th Street, Suite 1205

      New York, NY 10001

      Ph: 212-629-8001

      Fax: 212-629-8033

      e-mail: lpeterson@...



      April 2004


      James D. Wolfensohn


      World Bank

      1818 H Street, N.W.

      Washington, D.C. 20433


      Cc:  World Bank Board of Directors


                  Re:       Urban Air Pollution: Policy Framework for Mobile Sources


      Dear Mr. Wolfensohn:


                  Our organizations, representing citizens from dozens of countries around the world, are writing to express our strong reservations about the World Bank’s draft document, “Urban Air Pollution: Policy Framework for Mobile Sources” (the “Handbook”). 


      At the outset, we note that the World Bank staff responsible for preparing the “Handbook” have recognized the importance of soliciting comments from stakeholders at various forums both in Washington D.C. and around the world.  We also appreciate that the Handbook highlights the important role that traffic demand management, modal shift, and bus priority measures can play in mitigating air pollution from mobile sources.    We also agree with the World Bank that eliminating leaded gasoline should be the first step to reduce the pollution-based public health impacts of the world’s motor vehicles.  Since 1994, more than fifty nations have banned leaded gasoline, representing more than 85 percent of the world’s gasoline consumption.  We also agree that a comprehensive approach to resolving urban air pollution problems is necessary. 


      However, we ultimately feel that a key concern expressed by the vast majority of the handbook’s critics is still not reflected in the most recent draft of the Handbook.   This draft, by overemphasizing the uncertainties, hurdles and costs of improving fuel and vehicle standards, aids those policy makers seeking to delay or derail significant improvements in these standards.  Meanwhile, the document offers limited support to those decision-makers already committed to implementing these improvements or considering fuel or vehicle standards for the first time. 


      We urge you to delay the finalization of this report until our concerns have been addressed adequately.  We would like to meet with you and your staff to discuss these concerns in greater depth. 


                  As you know, air pollution is a growing public health concern in many developing countries.  This concern is heightened in the world’s growing mega-cities, which are highly likely to face even worse air pollution and related public health impacts in the future, given current trends in population growth, urbanization, vehicle ownership and traffic congestion.  Thus, we appreciate the need for a comprehensive policy framework to reduce vehicle pollution around the world. 


      Numerous studies have documented the links between vehicle pollution and a wide range of health impacts.  In many countries that are increasingly relying on diesel vehicles, millions of people suffer from unnecessary asthma attacks, cancer, heart and lung disease, and even premature deaths that have been linked with diesel particulate soot pollution.  The World Health Organization has recently estimated that outdoor air pollution caused by vehicles and other sources is responsible for almost 800,000 premature deaths each year, with most of those deaths occurring in developing countries. In countries that still use leaded gasoline, children continue to face the risk of mental retardation, impaired growth and, at high doses, even death.  Even where unleaded gasoline is used, vehicle emissions are contributing to an emerging ozone problem in many nations, which leads to impaired lung function and significant forest, agricultural and other environmental damage.


      Unfortunately, we fear that the World Bank’s draft Handbook fails to provide necessary leadership and guidance to those cities and countries that grappling with vehicle-related pollution problems.  Indeed, we believe that this draft document may undermine ongoing efforts in countries that are already taking meaningful, cost-effective steps to reduce sulfur levels in diesel and gasoline fuels and implement more stringent emission standards that require catalytic converters and/or other emission control equipment.  Moreover, we are deeply troubled that this report could delay crucial first steps in nations that have not begun to act.


      A growing number of policy makers recognize that a comprehensive approach to reducing vehicle emissions must include sulfur reductions and more stringent emission standards that require catalysts and/or other effective pollution controls.  Indeed, most of the world’s people live in developing countries that are reducing sulfur levels below or more quickly than the standards and timetables recommended in the World Bank’s first draft Handbook, including China, India, Thailand, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Chile, and South Africa.  Some of these nations are on a pathway towards ultra-low sulfur levels and aggressive European or American emission standards.  Throughout Africa, the Middle East and other regions, a debate about future sulfur and emission standards is actively beginning.  Rather than assisting these efforts, the current draft of the World Bank’s Handbook aids those who wish to derail or delay these efforts, by overemphasizing uncertainties, hurdles and costs, while underemphasizing options to reduce those uncertainties, hurdles and costs, as well as the significant health and environmental benefits of lower sulfur levels and cleaner vehicles.


      Reducing sulfur from diesel and gasoline fuels enables air quality and public health improvements in two important ways.  First, when high-sulfur fuels are used, sulfur is emitted as sulfur dioxide and sulfate particulate matter, each of which has significant health and environmental impacts.  Second, low-sulfur fuels can enable catalyst and other emission control technologies on existing and new vehicles.  At reduced sulfur levels, all existing vehicles operate more cleanly and some catalyst technologies are available to reduce a wide range of emissions.  At ultra-low sulfur levels, catalyst and filtering technologies are available that can reduce almost all smog-forming gases and diesel particulate soot in many instances.  Stated simply, just as eliminating lead in gasoline enables the use of catalytic converters to dramatically reduce a wide range of vehicle pollutants, reducing sulfur levels in diesel and gasoline fuels enables catalysts and other emission control systems that can dramatically reduce the wide range of vehicle pollutants.


      To summarize, over the past few years, policy makers representing the majority of the world’s citizens have moved beyond the premises and recommendations of the draft Handbook.  They have concluded that sulfur levels in diesel and gasoline fuels need to be reduced, and that the long-term goal of ultra-low sulfur levels and advanced emissions controls is the right one.  Their conclusions are critical steps on path to a cleaner, more sustainable transportation future.  In that context, the World Bank’s draft document represents a step backward, and a potential tool for those who wish to derail or delay this global clean-up of vehicle fuels and emissions.


      We strongly urge you to withhold the finalization of the Policy Framework for Mobile Sources until we have had a chance to meet, and until the document reflects our concerns.


      Very truly yours,


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