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."

The Clean Air Scorecard, developed by ADB through the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities Center (CAI-Asia), gives an overall clean air score ranging from zero, the lowest grade, to a maximum of 100. It comprises three individual indexes: the Air Pollution and Health Index, the Clean Air Management Capacity Index, and the Clean Air Policies and Actions Index.

While a number of indexes on air quality and environmental performance already exist, the scorecard is the first tool that gives a comprehensive assessment of management of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions by countries and cities.

The Clean Air Scorecard has been piloted in the cities of Bangkok, Thailand; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Manila, Philippines. The CAI-Asia Center is rolling it out for use elsewhere in Asia, including in the People's Republic of China.

"Failing to control air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will spell disaster for the region, putting at risk the health of those living here and economic growth of Asia and the Pacific," Jitendra Shah, Advisor, Regional and Sustainable Development Department at ADB, told the Better Air Quality Conference (BAQ) 2010 conference, which opened in Singapore today.

The conference, with the theme "Air Quality in a Changing Climate," is organized by CAI-Asia in partnership with the National Environment Agency of Singapore, the Land Transport Authority of Singapore, the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau, ADB and the World Bank. About 600 people are attending from around the region to discuss how to improve air quality.