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Southeast Asia

(Reuters) - Scientists studying tree rings to reconstruct the past have found that major volcanic eruptions can boost rains in Southeast Asia, challenging a common perception of volcanoes as purely destructive forces.

Studies in the past have shown massive eruptions such as the 1815 Tambora blast, and Krakatau in 1883, both in Indonesia, dimmed temperatures globally and wiped out crops.

Researchers at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the United States wanted to study the impacts on the Asian monsoon, whose rains are vital to crops and livelihoods for billions of people.

Read more: Volcanic blasts can boost SE Asia rains -study

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ASEM city leaders

Governors and mayors exchanged ideas on tackling major issues including climate change at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which involved the leaders of world cities for the first time.

Leaders and representatives from the cities, including Bangkok, Berlin, Brunei, Rotterdam, Seoul, Tokyo, Helsinki and Vientiane — underlined the importance of ASEM in providing a platform for dialogue and cooperation at the local level.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said large cities in Europe and Asia shared the same challenges such as urbanization, environment sustainability and multiculturalism.

“Every city has a different character and solution, but we can learn from each other,” he said during a press conference Friday.

Earlier in the morning, delegates shared a light moment when they planted mangroves in Pantai Indah Kapuk in North Jakarta. They later discussed the road maps to a greener city in a session on sustainability and climate change.

Read more: ASEM gives city leaders new ideas

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MANILA, Philippines—A coalition of major international environment groups has called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a stronger stand on climate change in the upcoming climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Green Peace and Oxfam, under the banner Coalition on ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Climate Deal (A-FAB), called on ASEAN leaders to show their commitment in dealing with the problem of climate change in Cancun, Mexico, in a statement issued on Saturday.

Read more: ASEAN urged to take stronger stand on climate change

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