Monday, May 27, 2013

Motor vehicle growth policy is a key factor to rein in Asian megacities congestion and air pollution

Figure 1 : Congestion may change the direction of auto industry of China (from Want China Times). 

A more balance mobility’s footprint is a condition of a sustainable Asia Pacific increase

Mobility is composed of the various services and means available for moving persons and goods. Rail, Road, Air and Maritime are the four main mobility modes.

The dominant export-oriented development model in the Asia-Pacific region over the past 15 years allowed considerable growth while the movement of raw materials, sub-assemblies and finished products were important issues of global competition.

This is also true with the development now planned for the Asia Pacific region, where growth could become more qualitative, less polluting, internally oriented with the aim of reducing traffic congestion, improving short and medium distances transports.

As explained in our previous post dated 31 Jan 2013, Asian Pacific countries were the fastest growing worldwide areas during the past 15 years. Urbanization was both the condition and the main result of this development. But Asian mega cities development is unprecedented in history and presents a double-headed challenge: global change -global risk.
Megacity's system could easily spin out of control with major environmental problems such as power blackout, traffic congestion and air pollution. Jakarta car congestion costs 5.4 bil $ annually while increasing poor air quality. With business as usual conditions, pollution would increase 2-3 folds on 1990-2020 due to population growth, industrialization and increased vehicle use. 
Traffic congestion and transport pollution have a huge cost in terms of health hazards, lost of hours spent in transport congestion.
As we have explained in our last post outdoor particulate matter air pollution in 2010 contributed to 1,270,000 premature deaths in Asia East (China & North Korea), which is about 40% of the global worldwide total amounting to 3,220,000 deaths. The burden of mobility is huge with the pollution of motorcars and motorcycles in congested Chinese megacities

Cluster description of Asian Pacific countries

To study the 24 Asia-Pacific countries, we used-as in our last post- a grouping in 5 clusters geographically, politically and economically homogeneous (see Figure 2):

  1. Asia East (China, Korea Dem. Rep.);
  2. Asian Pacific high income (Brunei, Japan, Korea Rep., Singapore);
  3. Asia South (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan);
  4. Asia Southeast (8 other ASEAN countries + Maldives, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste);
  5. Australasia (Australia, New Zealand). 

Figure 2 : The 5 clusters from the 24 Asian Pacific countries

In each cluster various countries have similar GDP per capita figures. The 5 cluster have altogether a 3,793 mil population - about 55% of the world population (6,896)- but with dissimilar land areas and population outcomes by cluster (see Figures 3 to 6 below).

In the three most populous areas – Asia East, South and Southeast- sustainability at stake is to continue rising income, while reducing ecological footprint (CO2 emissions, water and air pollution), and improved quality of life in large urban centers.

Figure 3 : Distribution of population (from World Bank Data)

Figure 4 : Distribution of population density

Each cluster has a major hub country such as China (98% of Asia East population), Japan (69% of Asia Pacific High income), India (78% of Asia South) or Australia (85% of Australasia).

But within the South East Asia, the situation is more open: Indonesia is the largest country (39%), but Malaysia and Thailand have the highest GDP per capita.

Figure 5 : Distribution of GDP per capita, high income and high middle income countries (from World Bank Data)

Figure 6 : Distribution of GDP per capita, low midle income and low income countries (from World Bank Data)

Passenger car ownership is a key factor

In many urban areas car private ownership is an important status symbol. The relationship between household and car ownership is mostly based on the income level.

We know that the relation between passenger car ownership against per capita GDP is a S-shape growth curve (see “Vehicle ChinaPollution by 2050 Huo, Hong & alia”).

Initially car ownership growth are slow while costs are high as compared to income, followed by a period of rapid uptake growth, then later by a slowing of uptake as saturation levels are reached.

The S-curve or Gompertz function is a type of mathematical model used to describe the population in a confined space, as birth rates first increase and then slow as resource limits are reached.

In the following Figures 7 & 8: the passenger car ownership per 1,000 people is plotted against per capita GDP in Asian Pacific countries (all data are from the World Bank on 2000-2011).

Figure 7 : “S” shape growth curve relation of passenger car’s ownership against per Capita GDP growth (all figures from World Bank Data)

In Asia Pacific- if we except Singapore which is a megacity country- growth patterns can be grouped into three categories:
  1. The North American type pattern – scarce population and huge distance- where  saturation level is around 550 vehicles per 1,000 people when per capita GDP is higher than $20,000, is followed here by Australia and New Zealand.
  2. The European type pattern- denser population and compact urban development – where saturation level is around 450 vehicles per 1,000 people, is followed here by Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and even China.
  3. The third pattern represented by Korea Rep, and some European countries, such as Denmark, and Ireland, show an even smaller rate of motor vehicle ownership, with a saturation level relatively lower—about 350 vehicles per 1,000 people. In these countries this low saturation level is caused partly by the high population density and the extensive public transportation system.

Figure 8 :Same  “S” shape growth curve relation with a zooming on low and middle development countries (all figures from WorldBank Data)

 What might be the evolution of car ownership in the coming years?

The passenger cars’ ownership saturation level is a key factor in estimating the total motor vehicle population growthIn particular, (see Figure 9) based on a continuation of the GDP per capita growth such as during 1900-2011:

Figure 9 : China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand Prevision of Fleet passenger car fleet in 2030

  • China’s passenger car stock might increase seven-fold, to 380 mil
  • Thailand might increase three-fold, Indonesia one 1/2- fold .
  • Malaysia might increase one 1/2-fold and  might be approaching the saturated level of 450 passenger car per 1,000 people .
Dargay and Gately assumed a saturation level of 850 (all vehicles) per 1,000 people and 620 cars per 1,000 people for the 26 countries (including China) that they studied .

However, Kobos et al. believe that it was impossible for China—a highly populated country—to reach such a high saturation level. Instead they propose a saturation level of 292 passenger vehicles per 1,000 people.

Button et al. set a range of 300 to 450 cars per 1,000 people for developing countries such as China.

We think as expressed by Kobos that the saturation level of the third pattern (curve min) in the range of 290-300 passenger vehicles should be more adapted. As done by Kobos & al. we need to examine the car ownership at the provincial level (see Figure 10). 

Demand for vehicle trend to mirror the megacities pattern concentration of wealth (see Figure 10), contrary to developed countries.

Increase in passenger vehicle will place serious strain on land use, urban air pollution, and oil requirements. 

Figure 10 : Passenger vehicle per 1,000 people by Chinese province, 2015 (from Kobos & al. 2003) 

China and others Asian countries rapidly evolving taste for automobile, all point towards a more integrated transport policy where other factors such as  access to public transport, traffic limitations at peak hours, tax on fuel or vehicle to compensate traffic congestion externalities might be discussed.

Innovative mobility- new type of car and rapid transit system -new investments, more stringent transport regulations and better law enforcement conditions are the conditions of a sustainable development. Poor policies in these areas may entail growing ecological footprint with health and environmental issues. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

China & North Korea: ambient particulate matter air pollution contributed to 1,270, 000 premature deaths in 2010 or about 40% of global worldwide risk

Figure 1:  A very smoggy day in Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 (from Yahoo News)

Industries, cars and trucks fuel or biomass combustion emit complex mixtures of air pollutants, many of which are harmful to health. Of all of these pollutants, fine particulate matter (PM) pollution has the greatest effect on human health.

Most sources of emissions are mobiles motorcars, motorcycles and sta­tionary sources such as power plants. Moreover some PM pollution is issued from fire of forest biomass exacerbated by global warming (see my 14 Sep 2012 post on Sumatra open fires).

Fine particulate matter is associated with a broad spectrum of acute and chronic illness, such as lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease.

Worldwide, it is estimated to cause about 8% of lung cancer deaths, 5% of cardiopulmonary deaths and about 3% of res­piratory infection deaths (see WHO 2009 Global health risk report).

Particulate matter pollu­tion is an environmental health problem that affects people worldwide, but middle-income countries are disproportionately more concerned by this burden.

The Global Burden of Diseases 2010 report methodology

The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors 2010 Study (GBD 2010) published in Dec 2012 by The Lancet, is the single largest and most detailed scientific effort ever conducted to quantify levels and trends in health. 

It is a global effort with 488 authors from 50 countries, including 26 low- and middle-income countries, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. GBD 2010 constitutes a unique platform to compare the magnitude of diseases, injuries, and risk factors across age groups, sexes, countries, regions, and time.

PM pollution of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5µm concentration in the ambient air (PM2.5 expressed in µg/m3) is a useful indicator to the risk associated to an exposure of mixture of pollutant from diverse sources:  transportation emissions, windblown dust, ashes from burning of biomass or coal from power plants.

The TM5 simulation model has been used to measure the pollutants level from satellite observations and ground observations. TM5 is a complex 3-dimensional global atmospheric model which simulates the concentrations of the various atmospheric trace gases, such as greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N20)), chemically active species (e.g. ozone (O3)), and aerosols.

Existing studies cover mostly small concentration (up to 30 µg/m3) while much higher concentration have been recorded in Asian cities and elsewhere. The relation between health hazards and concentration is probably nonlinear.

Relative risk estimation of associated mortalities are mainly for the following outcome: ischemic heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory tract infection etc.

Each risk factor is associated with a cluster of disease outcome that may cause death. Inversely each disease could proceed from a cluster of risks. Smoking and PM pollution are 2 different risks but which  outcome diseases are very similar.

Asia Pacific: ambient PM air pollution impacts on health

Outdoor PM air pollution in 2010 (see Figure 2) contributed to 1,270, 000 premature deaths in low and middle income East Asia countries (China & North Korea), which is about 40% of the global worldwide total amounting to 3,220,000 deaths. This is equivalent to the loss of 25 mil healthy years of life in China and North Korea while it is the 4th most important health risk in this area.

Figure 2 : Asia Pacific death counts from PM air pollution over 1990- 2010 (with Australasia too small to be seen)

In others low and middle income countries, PM pollution contributed to 767,000 and 164,000 premature deaths respectively in South and Southeast Asia (see Figure 2 above).

These death counts increased a lot over the last 20 years period for low and middle income countries: in East (+35% mostly China), South (+43% mostly India, Bangladesh, Pakistan ) and Southeast Asia (+50% mostly ASEAN countries).

In other high income countries, these death counts are only 88,000 while increasing only moderately over 1990-2010: in Asia Pacific (+12% Brunei, Japon, South Korea and Singapore) and Australasia  (1779 +31% Australlia, New Zealand) and as a result the death count is too small to be seen in Figure 2.

Asia Pacific: ambient PM air pollution impacts compared between various Asian countries

From the above figures we can derive the death counts per million people after averaging by each cluster of countries’ populations over 1990-2010. The following Figure 3 presents the death counts from PM air pollution per million people over 1990-2010.

Figure 3 : Asia Pacific death counts from PM air pollution as part of the overall population over 1990-2010

For low and middle income countries:

East and Southeast Asia increased by 13-15% while South Asia keeps a fixe level. 

It means that the 2 first clusters of countries have been hugely impacted by PM air pollution, while South Asia cluster of country is mostly the result of its population's size.

For high income countries:

The death counts per mil people increased very moderately +1% in Australasia and +4% in Asia Pacific high income countries.

Asia Pacific: ambient PM air pollution impact as part of the overall health risks

The 4 following Figures 4, 5, 6 & 7 present the 10 biggest health risks in 2010 as established by GBD 2010, with the 1990 values given as a comparison. The horizontal scale is also the same.

In all countries the first risk is the high blood pressure which is a physiological disorder deriving from a disturbance of normal functioning at the level of organs and systems within the human body. This risk level is about the same 1,300 to 1,400 death counts per mil people for most countries, South Asia excepted.

East Asia:

In East Asian low and middle income countries, it should be highlighted that the PM air pollution death count (918 ranked 4) is about the same as the smoking habit’s outcome (1058 ranked 3): so the PM air pollution kills as much people each year as the tobacco. 

The main risk in 1990 was the household pollution from solid fuel which in 2010 is now ranked 5 after PM air pollution.

Figure 4:  The 10 highest health risks in East Asia low and middle income countries China and North Korea from GBD 2010

South Asia:

In South Asian countries the PM air pollution death counts (486 ranked 5) is much smaller than smoking risk (ranked 3), the household air pollution is high (ranked 2) and the general profile is at a much lower level: the blood pressure death counts (ranked 1) is nevertheless half the value of East Asian countries.

Figure 5 : The 10 highest health risks in South Asia low and middle income countries from GBD 2010

Southeast Asia:

In Southeast Asian countries: apart from the PM air pollution, the 10 first risks’ profile are about the same as in East Asia for blood pressure, smoking and diet problem but at a lower levels. The PM air pollution death count is much smaller (270 ranked 9) or 3 times smaller than in East Asia. This is in relation with a more diverse grouping of countries.

Figure 6 : The 10 highest health risks in Southeast Asia low and middle income countries from GBD 2010

High income Asia Pacific countries:

In high income Asia Pacific, apart from the first 2 risks: high blood pressure and smoking, the remaining profile is different. New risks are more prevalent associated with wealthy life style: physical inactivity and high sodium at a highest level, high body mass index. The PM air pollution death count is smaller (486 ranked 9) or 2 times smaller than in East Asia.

Figure 7: The 10 highest health risks in high income Asia Pacific countries from GBD 2010