A Clean Air Scorecard for cities

Discussion Topic: A Clean Air Scorecard for cities (10 messages)
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posted on 11 Jun 2010

We are happy to share that CAI-Asia has developed an objective and comprehensive analysis tool for understanding the air quality management status in cities incorporating
(1) air quality levels,
(2) clean air management capacity and
(3) clean air policies and actions and is capable of identifying potential improvement areas for the city – the

We are happy to receive your comments, recommendations as well as inquiries on this tool.

posted on 05 Jul 2010
1845 days ago

In 16 February 2010, May Ajero posted this question: Asian Cities with Dirtiest Air: To rank or not to rank?

a) Should Asian cities be ranked according to which has the dirtiest air, yes or no?
b) What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a ranking?
c) What methodology should be used to ensure objectivity?


This received numerous responses which raised several interesting points. Allow me to review the main points brought up by some CoP members.

1. There are difficulties and inherent limitations with ranking. One key limitation lies with data reliability and quality. Many cities in developing Asia experience limitations in urban air quality monitoring, whether this may be on lack of capability, insufficient local resources for operating and maintaining air quality monitoring systems and other reasons. While air quality modeling may be used to supplement air quality monitoring, results will still not be useful without good quality data.

2. While there are difficulties, ranking can benefit and help cities:

a. To determine how much more effort/action is still needed to improve the local air quality
b. To monitor if new measures and/or policies have been implemented in the cities to address urban air pollution
c. To determine various local clean air projects, measures and actions cities have done which have been successful in reducing air pollution levels. This allows sharing of best practices between cities: cities with similar situation may opt to implement these measures after they see the successful results from other cities.

In all cases, to be able to maximize benefits in assessing cities, all factors must be considered, not only air quality levels.

3. General consensus that aside from ranking/assessing cities, there must be guidance to the cities how to improve and which areas they need to improve. It should not stop at ranking. Assessment must always be partnered with guidance to the cities on improving their air quality management.

4. While not highlighted in the discussion, existing assessments and ranking separates greenhouse gases (GHGs) from air pollutants and does not consider interlinkages between them.

Rather than addressing each issue separately, cities can integrate air quality management and climate change mitigation efforts as air pollutants and GHGs are generally emitted from same sources, and as such, policy or technological solutions often overlap.

***A co-benefits approach to these two issues can maximize benefits and can potentially reduce costs compared to treating air pollutants and GHGs in isolation.***


What are your thoughts on these? Do you agree with the ideas and comments raised? Or do you have additional ideas that were not covered in the previous discussion?

posted on 03 Aug 2010
1816 days ago

I would like to share with you the response from Miriam Lev-On, Executive Director of the LEVON Group, LLC sent through the CAI-Asia listserv:


The concept of ranking gets sometime a bad connotation, therefore we should think of it more in the context of intercomparison and analysis of the main factors for different air quality in different cities.

I fully agree that uniform procedures for siting air quality monitoring stations and uniform operating protocols and data validation and aggregation are a must for any valid intercomparison. The US EPA has set up over thirty years ago strict criteria for setting up and operating air quality surveillance networks.


One should particularly note the Appendices to the regulation that specify quality assurance procedures, operating protocols and network siting requirements.

It would be advisable that prior to undertaking any comparison of cities and networks that one conducts an assessment of the different networks and their adherence to a common set of practices to ensure that we would be comparing “apples to apples”.



posted on 03 Aug 2010
1816 days ago

I would like to share with you the response from Naresh Badhwar sent through the CAI-Asia listserv:

Dear Kaye

Following are my views on ranking based on air quality data. If they have already been covered then it is fine.

It is always better to rank cities based on air pollution load (tones/day or quantity/time) rather than air quality data. The reason is that air quality depends on lot of factors such as meteorology, location of stations, number of stations, proximity to sources etc.

A city with higher pollution load but favorable meteorology will have better air quality (lower levels) and a city with lower pollution load but unfavorable meteorological conditions may have poor air quality (lower levels). Thus to say that the former city is less polluted may not be correct and if such ranking is used to prepare action plans to control air pollution for a city with lesser pollution load then also it may not be correct esp if funds are limited and prioritization is required.

If air quality data of various cities is to be compared/ranked then it must be ensured that the monitoring sites are representative, comparable and physical requirement of monitoring site are uniformly implemented. Following are some of the issues

1) It must be ensured that in various cities location of monitoring stations are uniform such as away from sources, sampling in free flow etc.
2) Monitoring protocols are similar for eg comparing data of manual vs automatic measurement instrument may lead to some discrepancies due to difference in accuracy of two methods
3) Number of stations in various cities should be uniform. Comparing data that is average of 2 stations in a city with data which is average of say 10 stations in a city may not be correct
4) Data compilation procedures should be uniform. If annual average in one city is average of say 50 readings in a year and comparing it with data of another city which is average of say 200 readings in a year may not be correct. ( this especially in case of manual monitoring). Since there are seasonal variations so it must be ensured that data is representative.

In summary data can be compared if all the above requirements are uniform across various cities otherwise ranking result may not lead to true scenario. It is always better to rank based on air pollution load but then to get this information on emission inventory of various cities is another requirement.

Thanking you

With kind regards
Naresh Badhwar


posted on 03 Aug 2010
1816 days ago

I would like to share with you the response from PT Loh, Managing Director of Equipment Engineering Pte Ltd, sent through the CAI-Asia listserv:

Hi Kaye

It is important to rank Asian Cities Dirtiest Air not so much as in a competition but to allow the authorities to compare the health of its people versus those in cleaner or dirtier location. The government is responsible for the long term impact on the health of the people and polluted air is of major concern. While the ranking may directly affect the countries economy (example Hong Kong) where people chose not to work in area with heavily polluted air, it must nevertheless be taken seriously and a yardstick for improvement. I think it is also important from CAI point of view to let people know the fact of the matter, it is our responsibility.

It is true that some countries may find monitoring the air quality expensive and do not have the means to carry it out. In Jakarta some years ago, there are many monitoring stations set up due to the poor air quality but the cost of maintaining them has put most out of commission. I am sure the authorities knew that dirty air equal unhealthy population equal poor productivity. But the big question is do they have a choice over other priority when money is always in short supply to do a massive cleanup. It is not a one time process but a long term commitment and that requires strong political will.


PT Loh


posted on 05 Jul 2010
1845 days ago

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Kind regards,


posted on 13 Jul 2010
1837 days ago

This is a belated response to the questions posted by May on 16 February 2010:
1. I agree with other discussants, ranking may be very tricky. I think it will help if we can be clear on objectives which should guide the design of the tool.
2. In addition to ranking, the scorecards could be used to make an evaluation of selected cities in order to identify the areas for improvement. The Clean air scorecard seems to be a good tool. I am not sure if we are just in the preparatory stage or the activity has started. (Maybe not.) I think we will need explicit instructions as we go along.
3. It might be good to include a mechanism to evaluate the progress made by a city through the years, i.e. it could rank low but perhaps it tripled its progress as compared to previous years.


posted on 16 Jul 2010
1834 days ago
Taking into consideration the many factors raised during the discussion, we recognized this need for an objective and comprehensive assessment of a city’s management of air pollutants and GHG emissions, which does not stop at the assessment BUT also provides identifies improvement areas for the city.As such, we have developed the Clean Air Scorecard.This builds on and improves the 2006 AQM assessment by CAI-Asia, together with Air Pollution in the Megacities of Asia (APMA) for 20 cities and incorporates three indexes:1. Air Pollution and Health Index
2. Clean Air Management Capacity Index
3. Clean Air Policies and Actions Index

Overall Structure of the Clean Air Scorecard

Air Pollution and Health Index – which assesses air pollution levels of cities against World Health Organization (WHO) guideline values and interim targets (i.e., a “good air” day in this index is in relation to WHO guidelines rather than the city’s ambient air quality standards which are generally less stringent). Pollutants included are PM10, PM2.5, SO2, CO, NO2, Pb, and O3. A city is required to have, at a minimum, monitoring data for PM10.

Clean Air Management Capacity Index – which assesses a city’s capacity to (1) determine sources of emissions and their contribution (through an emissions inventory), (2) assess the status of air quality (includes monitoring, modeling, data analysis and reporting), (3) estimate impacts on health, environment and economy, (4) reduce air pollution and GHG emissions through an institutional and policy framework and financing. The structure is based on the DPSIR Framework [Drivers-Pressures-Status-Impacts-Response].

Hierarchy of Clean Air Management Capacity Index Indicators

Clean Air Policies and Actions Index – which assesses the existence and enforcement of national and local policies and actions to address air pollutants and GHG emissions from mobile, stationary, area and transboundary sources.

Hierarchy of Clean Air Policies and Actions Index Indicators

We would like to solicit your comments/suggestions on the structure to help us improve this tool.

1. Do you agree with having the three indexes: Air pollution and health Index, Clean air management capacity index and clean air policies and actions index?
2. Do you think we have covered all relevant indicators?
3. Are there are other indicators you think should be included?



posted on 16 Jul 2010
1834 days ago


Is there also a document which describes the whole Clean Air Score card and which contains the individual indicators.



posted on 07 Aug 2010
1812 days ago

Dear Kaye

Following are my views on the clean air score card. I would like to clarify that these are not intended on finding shortcomings but aimed towards further refinement of clean air score card.

1) As I understand that these indices are calculated based on responses to questions. This will result in a qualitative judgement which can be subjective. I would suggest that when a person is providing responses to questions then they may be asked to substantiate the response with documents and a committee say ‘Clean air score card committee’ can be formed which can evaluate responses based on documents provided. This procedure of committee is normally followed by ‘Rating Agencies’ (whether it is credit rating or carbon rating) in which final rating is approved by a committee. In clean air score card also, essentially air quality rating is carried out.

2) Air Pollution and Heath index can always be calculated quantitatively. There are empirical relations/formulaes available which calculate air quality index based on air quality data.

3) Lead is not a pollutant of concern atleast in India (mainly due to unleaded gasoline). It can be thought of replacing it with Benzene which is carcinogenic ( in Air pollution and health index).

4) Management systems are normally based on PDCA (Plan –Do-Check-Act) principle so air quality management plans should include reviewing whether implementations of policies are effective. Accordingly the policies should be reviewed based on whether desired results have been obtained. An indicator for review mechanism can be added in air quality management capacity index and clean air policies and actions index.

5) As I understand that air quality and health index and clean air and policies index will be estimated based on actual data and actual policies in place respectively. However, the clean air management capacity index will be estimated based on capacity of the city to carry out inventory, epidemiological studies etc. Thus, a city which has the capacity but may not have implemented/carried out studies (eg inventory etc) may get a higher clean air score. (Thus two cities one which has capacity but had not implemented studies etc and another city which has implemented studies may end up getting similar scores). Ideally city that has capacity but has not implemented should get a low score so that it is shown that it needs to improve by means of carrying out such studies.

One may argue that if a city has capacity but has not implemented/carried out studies will score poorly in other two indices so overall clean air score will be less. However, this may not always be the case as most of the cities are carrying out air quality monitoring and air quality policies are also in place (although inventory etc may not have been carried out)

I would suggest in the air quality management capacity index, one indicator on implementation may also be added so that a city is evaluated on whether it has the capacity and also whether it has carried out such studies. In case this indicator is added then it may also be checked that there is no overlapping amongst indices

Thanking you

With kind regards