In environmental milestone, Sub-Saharan Africa free of leaded fuel – UN agency

27 December 2005

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced that sub-Saharan African vehicle fuels will be lead-free as of 1 January 2006, meeting a promise made at the World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) three years ago.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced that sub-Saharan African vehicle fuels will be lead-free as of 1 January 2006, meeting a promise made at the World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) three years ago.

“This is a real environmental and health achievement,” said UNEP chief Klaus Toepfer, paying tribute to all those governments, companies and others such as the World Bank who kept this promise made at the Summit.

He called for further measures to tackle other pollutants, promote alternative fuels such as bio-fuels and hydrogen alongside more efficient vehicles “not just in developed countries but for everyone across the globe.”

Lead is linked to a wide range of ailments and ill health including damage to the brains of babies and young children. It has been phased out in many parts of the world already including North America and Europe.

Up to 2002, only one of the 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa – Sudan – was fully unleaded. With South Africa to go unleaded on 1 January 2006, the entire region will have switched, UNEP said.

Building on the Dakar Declaration of 2001, where African countries agreed to phase out lead, the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles was formed at the Summit in September 2002.

In early 2006 the Partnership will launch a global leaded gasoline phase-out for the rest of the developing world and economies in transition with the goal of eliminating leaded petrol world-wide by 2008, according to the agency.

Currently well over 30 countries globally are still using leaded petrol, and among those presenting the greatest challenges are Micronesia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cuba, Iraq, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The Partnership is also focusing its attention on the very high levels of sulphur found in fuels in developing countries and economies in transition.

 

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