Politics

Leaded gasoline has been worn out all over the world – however why is that such a giant deal?

Robert Alexander via Getty ImagesA sign on an old gas pump indicates that the gas contains lead (tetraethyl).

Leaded gasoline has finally been phased out for use in cars and trucks around the world.

In July Algeria finally ran out of fuel – which contains tetraethyl lead – and signaled the beginning of a greener era.

Most developed nations managed to ban it in the 1980s, but it was a slow process that encouraged the rest of the world to follow suit.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres declared the eradication of fuel to be an “international success story”.

When we think of one of the most dangerous polluting fuels of the 20thThandile Chinyavanhu, Greenpeace climate and energy activist

What’s so bad about leaded gasoline?

The highly polluting substance has been contaminating countries for nearly a century and is known to cause heart disease, cancer and strokes. It has also been linked to the impairment of brain development in children.

Guterres stated, “Ending the use of leaded gasoline will prevent more than a million premature deaths each year.”

UN Environment Program Executive Director Inger Andersen also said this represents a major change in the way people deal with the climate crisis, adding, “Humanity can learn from and correct our mistakes.”

The environmental organization Greenpeace also described it as “the end of a toxic era”, claiming: “It clearly shows that if we use one of the most dangerous polluting fuels of the 20th

“Successful enforcement of the leaded gasoline ban is a major milestone for global health and our environment.” – @andersen_inger

Discover the campaign that helped the world abandon leaded fuels: https://t.co/fszKHb0RLn#ForPeopleForPlanetpic.twitter.com/uhIT6m1z1k

– UN Environment Program (@UNEP) August 31, 2021

But why did we introduce it in the first place?

In the early 1920s, leaded gasoline was found to improve engine performance in vehicles, and its inventor, Thomas Midgley, was sure it was safe.

In 1924, a crisis in a refinery of American oil giant Standard Oil sparked a wave of panic over the fuel itself – five workers were killed and dozens more were hospitalized after convulsions.

However, these concerns have largely been overlooked.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that there was a major shift in gasoline consumption when Japan completely removed the lead from its fuel.

Austria was the first country to ban it from road vehicles in 1989. In the 2000s, 86 countries were still using the product – it wasn’t banned in the UK until 2000.

The UN launched a global campaign to combat it in 2002, while North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan stopped selling in 2016.

Why did it take so long to stamp it out?

The move away from leaded gasoline has significant economic consequences.

The United Nations Environment Program stated: “Many low and middle income countries are still struggling with inadequate regulatory standards for fuels and vehicles.”

Some nations unknowingly import high sulfur fuel without realizing the public health risk.

Other nations – including Afghanistan – have grappled with wars and are less willing to make gasoline changes a priority.

The UN also claimed: “The lack of adequate regulation for the import of used vehicles further complicates the problem. Inadequate regulation of used car imports in developing countries opens the market for an influx of vehicles that lack the latest technologies necessary to limit emissions of harmful pollutants. “

Instead, older models are used, which in turn have an impact on air quality.

Other behavioral factors also played a role.

Britain has also been slow to implement the law change compared to its Western allies because the British have been reluctant to take unleaded cars into their cars, even if it has become cheaper and more accessible.

Well done @UNEP! A century of leaded gasoline use ends today. Prevents more than 1 million premature deaths each year. Now we need to stop selling new diesel and gasoline vehicles ASAP! Stop #air pollution! # CleanAir4Healthhttps: //t.co/XkQ1SqNZF5https: //t.co/yTvvNCWMVm

– Matteo Barisione (@barisionematteo) August 31, 2021

Is Extinction Really a Milestone?

Lead gas is still used in small aircraft, and lead itself can remain in the environment as dust, according to EuroNews.

However, Thadile Chinyavanhu, Greenpeace climate and energy activist in South Africa, said: “The end of leaded gasoline is more than a celebration of the end of a toxic era.

“The phasing out of leaded gasoline last month in Algeria – the last country in the world to use tetraethyl lead – is a testament to the world’s ability to achieve a common goal – together.

“It clearly shows that if we use one of the most dangerous polluting fuels of the 20th

However, it is clear from the recent IPCC report, which gave mankind a “code red” to limit global temperature rise to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, that much remains to be done.

Activists like Greta Thunberg have repeatedly urged that the fossil fuel gasoline itself be banned from everyday life, not just leaded gasoline.

The ban on “fossil advertising” is, of course, a good start. But if we want to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis, we can not only strive to be “fossil-free” but free from all greenhouse gas intensive practices.
There is no longer any room for loopholes and non-holistic thinking. pic.twitter.com/gKwiPqPea7

– Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 30, 2021

There still seems to be a long way to go, however, especially as Prime Minister Boris Johnson could approve the dismantling of a £ 16 billion gas port in the North Sea.

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