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Feature: Taking control of city air pollution

By Tiffany Hoy (Xinhua)

20:40, February 25, 2013

SYDNEY, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- As China searches for ways to clear the smog from its cities, it need look no further than Australia, its Asia-Pacific neighbor, as a leader in air quality management.

Australia has some of the cleanest air in the world, thanks to legislation and management strategies working to reduce emissions and improve air quality since the 1960s.

Over the last 15 years in particular, government controls on industry, motor vehicles and fuels, as well as backyard burning, have made a positive difference in cleaning up the cities' air. Today, air in Australian cities is generally better than in cities in most parts of the world.

"We certainly are leaders in the world in good air pollution management control approaches and procedures," Professor Howard Bridgman, president of the Clean Air Association of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ), told Xinhua.

"I've been working on air pollution problems in Australia since I came here in 1977, and over those years I've seen lots of positive developments in air pollution management," he said.

However, the nation also has one of the highest per capita emissions rates from burning fossil fuels. In 2011, Australia recorded 17.3 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person, on par with the United States.

To cut fossil fuels and other harmful emissions -- fighting both climate change and city smog in the process -- Australia is encouraging its citizens and industries to further reduce their contribution to air pollution levels.

The Gillard government recently signed up to a second period of the Kyoto commitment, legally binding Australia to its target of cutting greenhouse emissions by at least 5 percent by 2020.

Perhaps the most controversial step towards this goal in 2012 was the introduction of a price on carbon emissions -- to become a fully-fledged emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2015.

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