RAINS-Asia: The First Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution in Asia

Already in the early 1990s at the onset of Asia's rapid economic upswing, IIASA pioneered the first integrated analysis of the air pollution problem in Asia. With a large international network of scientific collaborators from 20 countries in Asia, the first 'RAINS-Asia' project raised awareness about the need to control SO2 emissions in order to protect the Asian ecosystems from acid deposition, as a consequence of the anticipated steep increase in coal consumption.

(c) Dreamstime

(c) Dreamstime

In 1990, fossil fuels accounted for about 80% of energy consumption in Asia. Because of its abundance and easy recoverability, especially in India and China, coal was  the fuel of choice in the foreseeable future. If these trends continued, sulfur dioxide emissions from Asia were expected to equal the emissions from North America and Europe combined.

These trends portended a variety of local, regional, and global environmental impacts. Acid rain damages human health, ecosystems, and built surfaces. Many ecosystems will be unable to absorb these increased acidic depositions, leading to irreversible ecosystem damage with far-reaching implications for health, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, and tourism.

RAINS-ASIA was developed as a scenario-generating tool to estimate the extent of damages caused by acid rain and to review the costs and impacts of alternatives to provide a look into the future. Its use extends from national-, regional-, and city-scale evaluation and inputs for cost-effective options analyses, to international negotiations on transboundary pollution.

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Last edited: 22 June 2018


1992 - 1999


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313