Just two countries away from global elimination of lead in petrol



The Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles held its 12th Global Partners’ Meeting in March 2019 in Paris, France to discuss progress towards cleaner transport in developing and transitional countries. 

Almost two decades since the partnership was established, the partners’ resolve to promote cleaner fuels and vehicles in low- and middle-income countries remains strong. Close to 40 partners from the oil and vehicles industry, academia, civil society, and developing and developed countries met to review progress since 2016 in three areas: the elimination of lead in petrol, reduction of Sulphur levels in fuel and the adoption of vehicle emission standards.

There are many reasons to celebrate. Over the years, the partnership has reached several key milestones, including the elimination of leaded petrol in 84 out of 86 countries—a 98 per cent achievement. The two remaining leaded countries have also progressively introduced unleaded petrol. In addition to this, 36 countries have switched to low and ultra-low Sulphur fuels and 15 countries adopted Euro IV equivalent vehicle emissions standards. Despite the acknowledgment that good progress has been made, the work remains far from over.   

Many low- and middle-income countries still grapple with inadequate fuel and vehicles regulatory standards. According to the Public Eye Report, several West African countries unwittingly import fuels with Sulphur levels as high as 10,000 ppm from Europe, posing a major public health risk.

The lack of adequate regulation on the importation of used vehicles further complicates the issue. Poor regulation of used vehicle imports in developing countries opens the market to an influx of vehicles that lack the latest technologies required to limit the emission of harmful pollutants. Old, outdated vehicles running on toxic fuel are a perfect recipe for harmful emissions resulting in deteriorating air quality, particularly in urban areas. It is for this reason that the partnership resolved to continue focusing on the three campaigns of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles: eliminate lead in petrol worldwide, reduce Sulphur levels in fuels and promote cleaner vehicle standards.

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