May 01, 2004

New World Bank Handbook on Transport and Air Pollution

The newest version of the document should be available on line soon at https://www.cleanairnet.org/cai/1403/article-56396.html.

Early versions of the handbook attracted sharp criticism from groups ranging from the Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment to NRDC to the US EPA. The transport sector parts of the document were quite positive, supporting non-motorized transport, bus priority systems, and congestion pricing. The document drew most fire for recommending weaker fuel standards on sulfur content than those currently being pursued in some major countries like India and China. The critics felt the document would be misused to justify weaker fuel quality standards.

Authors Todd Johnson, Ken Gwilliam, and Masami Kojima, discussed the document at great length with their critics in a very participatory process. While critics are still not satisfied, the document has moved closer to a consensus position.

ITDP’s main concern was that the document was supposed to be a guide to decision-making, but initially did not provide clear guidance on how developing countries could make difficult investment decisions into such diverse areas as cleaning up fuel refineries or implementing busways.

The most recent draft is much better, suggesting that countries establish reasonable ambient air standards and seek cost effective ways of reaching the standard. But the document stops short of ITDP’s position, that countries should bring their transport and environmental investments into conformity with meeting ambient air standards.

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