UN declares leaded petrol era 'officially over', as Algeria bans sale at pumps

UN declares leaded petrol era 'officially over', as Algeria bans sale at pumps
Algeria was the last country in the world to sell leaded petrol at pumps.
2 min read
30 August, 2021
Leaded petrol has been effectively outlawed globally [Getty-file photo]

The UN has declared the era of leaded petrol "officially over" after Algeria halted production at a refinery last month.

Leaded petrol has been seen as a key threat to global health and the environment for decades, with the UN lobbying countries to end the sale of the pollutant.

The UN has now announced that the sale of the fuel had been eliminated after Algeria became the last country in the world to effectively ban leaded petrol.

"The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment," Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme said, according to The Guardian

"Overcoming a century of deaths and illnesses that affected hundreds of millions and degraded the environment worldwide, we are invigorated to change humanity’s trajectory for the better through an accelerated transition to clean vehicles and electric mobility."

Leaded petrol was once widely used across the world, until the health and environmental damage became obvious.

Countries began to phase out to sale of leaded petrol in the 1980s with a complete ban in the UK in 1999, although the effects on air quality were still being felt in some cities two decades later.

The UN launched a 19-year campaign to end the sale of leaded petrol in other countries, with Algeria declaring a ban on the fuel in July.

Greenpeace Africa was one of the NGOs fighting for a ban on leaded petrol and welcomed Algeria's decision on Monday.

"For Greenpeace, the end of leaded petrol is more than a celebration of the end of one toxic era," Thandile Chinyavanhu, Greenpeace Climate and Energy campaigner in South Africa said. 

"The phase-out of leaded petrol in Algeria last month - the last country in the world to have used Tetraethyllead - is a testament to the world’s ability to achieve a common goal - together."