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Iraq: Time to quit smoking

The elimination of pollution from gas flaring in southern Iraq is becoming an election issue

The inhabitants of southern Iraq, where most of the country's oil is produced, don't need statistics to tell them that they live in a highly-polluted region of the world. They can see the flames and smell the acidic smoke rising from chimneys where natural gas associated with oil production is burned. The flecks of oil in the atmosphere cloud windows and windscreens. Iraqis therefore will not be surprised to learn that the latest data from a World Bank-led initiative shows that their country is second only to Russia in a list of gas flaring offenders, burning respectively 16bn cubic metres (0.56 trillion cubic feet) and 21bn cm annually. Iran is in third place, spewing out 12bn cm of gas in

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