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Southeast Asia

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Asia and the Pacific must work harder to address air pollution alongside broader efforts to counter climate change, and a new Clean Air Scorecard developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help the region do that.

"We think it's critical to have a comprehensive air quality measure to allow governments to judge how best to tackle air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," said Nessim J. Ahmad, Director of ADB's Environment and Safeguards Division. "And working to improve air quality will benefit everyone's health and productivity, especially that of the poor who are most exposed to pollution."

Read more: ADB's Clean Air Scorecard to Help Asia Reduce Air Pollution

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(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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