The use of leaded gasoline has been eradicated worldwide, a milestone that will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths and save global economies more than $2.4 trillion annually, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said Monday.
Nearly a century after doctors first warned about the toxic effects of leaded gasoline, Algeria — the last country to use the fuel — ran out of fuel last month, UNEP said, calling the news a milestone in the fight for cleaner air.
“The successful enforcement of the leaded petrol ban is a huge milestone for global health and our environment,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP, which is headquartered in Nairobi.
Even just two decades ago, more than 100 countries around the world still used leaded gasoline, despite studies linking it to premature deaths, ill health, and soil and air pollution.
Concerns arose as early as 1924, when dozens of workers were hospitalized and five were pronounced dead after convulsions at a refinery of the American giant Standard Oil, dubbed the “looney gas building” by the staff.
Nevertheless, until the 1970s, almost all gasoline sold around the world contained lead.
When UNEP launched its campaign in 2002, many major powers had already stopped using the fuel, including the United States, China and India. But the situation in the low-income countries remained dire.
– Urgent action needed –
In 2016, after North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan stopped selling leaded gasoline, only a handful of countries still operated gas stations that supplied the fuel, and Algeria finally followed Iraq and Yemen by ending its dependence on the pollutants. dust.
UNEP said in a statement that eradication of leaded gasoline “would prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths a year, increase IQ points among children, save $2.44 trillion for the global economy and lower crime rates.”
It warned that fossil fuel use in general still needs to be drastically reduced to avert the terrifying effects of climate change.
Global auto sales will grow exponentially, especially in emerging markets.
“The transport sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions and will grow to a third by 2050,” UNEP said, adding that 1.2 billion new vehicles would hit the streets in the coming decades.
“This includes millions of poor quality used vehicles exported from Europe, the United States and Japan to middle and low-income countries.
“This contributes to global warming and air-polluting traffic and is sure to cause accidents,” the global agency said.
Earlier this month, a bomb report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the global average temperature could be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer by 2030 — a decade earlier than expected, raising alarm bells about fossil fuel use.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)