Leaded petrol eradicated globally, will prevent 1.2 million premature deaths: says UNEP

UNEP informed that nearly a century after doctors had first issued warnings about the toxic effects of leaded petrol, Algeria- the last country to use the fuel-has exhausted its supplies last month.

Eradication of leaded petrol
Eradication of leaded petrol

The United National Environment Programme (UNEP) said on August 30, 2021, that the use of leaded petrol has been eradicated from the globe. It is a milestone that will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths and will save the world economies over $2.4 trillion annually.

UNEP, while calling the news a landmark win in the fight for cleaner air, said that nearly a century after doctors had first issued warnings about the toxic effects of leaded petrol, Algeria- the last country to use the fuel-has exhausted its supplies last month.

The executive director of UNEP, Inger Anderson said that the successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for our environment and global health.

Use of leaded petrol globally: What do we know?

Concerns were raised worldwide as early as in 1924 when dozens of workers were hospitalised and five were declared dead after suffering the convulsions at a refinery run by the US giant Standard Oil.

Nevertheless, until the 1970s almost all the gasoline that was sold across the globe contained lead.

Even as recently as two decades ago, more than 100 nations were still using leaded petrol, despite the studies that linked it to premature deaths, soil and air pollution and poor health.

Eradication of leaded petrol

In 2002, when the UN Environment Programme launched its campaign, many major powers had already stopped using the fuel, including China, India, and the United States. However, the situation in lower-income countries remained dire.

By 2016, after Myanmar, North Korea, and Afghanistan stopped selling leaded petrol, only a handful of nations were still operating the service stations providing the fuel, with Algeria finally following Yemen and Iraq to end its reliance on the pollutant.

Why eradication of leaded petrol will be significant?

The UNEP had warned that fossil fuels, in general, must be drastically reduced to stave off the frightening effects of climate change.

The UN agency in a statement had said that the eradication of leaded petrol will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths every year, will increase IQ points among the children, decrease crime rates and will save $2.44 trillion for the global economy.

Transport sector responsible for greenhouse gas emissions:

UNEP has pointed that the transport sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related global greenhouse emissions and is all set to grow to one-third by 2050. It added that 1.2 billion vehicles will hit the streets in the coming decades.

Vehicle sales are set to climb, particularly in emerging markets. This will include millions of poor-quality used vehicles exported from Europe, Japan, the US, to mid and low-income nations.

The global body said that it will contribute to planet-warming and the air polluting traffic and is bound to cause accidents.

Report on Earth’s temperature:

Earlier in August 2021, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had warned that the average temperature of Earth will be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer around 2030, which is a decade earlier than projected, raising bells about the use of fossil fuels.

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