Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the global phase-out of leaded petrol, today:
Today, we celebrate a milestone for multilateralism — the culmination of a united global effort to rid the world of lead in petrol, a major threat to human and planetary health. This international success story comes after a 20-year public-private initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
When the campaign began, 86 countries were still using leaded fuel. Today, there are none. Lead in fuel has run out of gas, thanks to the cooperation of Governments in developing nations, thousands of businesses and millions of ordinary people.
Ending the use of leaded petrol will prevent more than 1 million premature deaths each year from heart disease, strokes and cancer. And it will protect children whose IQs are damaged by exposure to lead.
This achievement again shows what we can accomplish when we work together across countries and sectors for the common good. Another outstanding example is the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
We must now turn the same commitment to ending the triple crises of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution. We need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We need global mobility with no emissions at all. We must reform our energy, food and financial systems to create a world of peace that works with nature, not against it.
To succeed, we need international cooperation. Compromise. Solidarity. All guided by science. Let us take inspiration from the end of leaded fuel. Let’s focus all our efforts on making peace with nature. And let’s build a cleaner, greener future for all.