QUESTION: Advice on campaigning for lead petrol ban in Mongolia, 30 Jul 2005, Ulaanbaatar Municipality Mongolia
Dear Sir or Madam,
My name is Mrs. Ts.Erdenechuluun and I am from Mongolia. I work as Director of the NGO "Millennium Progress", Mongolia. We are interested in air pollution issue, which is one of the biggest problems of the country, particularly in the capital city Ulaanbaatar.
We would like to cooperate with your organization and hope to get valueable
help and advice.
ANSWER: 31 Jul 2005
It is wonderful that you have sent me an email. I can give you the following advice about how to campaign for a ban on leaded petrol in Mongolia and this will be the first essential step in reducing air pollution from motor vehicles in Mongolia. Can you please tell me if you know of any other major sources of lead pollution? For instance, are there any lead smelters or mines or lead acid battery manufacturers or recyclers? If you can write back to me with more details I will be able to help with the lead-related air quality issues but I would probably have to refer you to someone else if the major air quality issues are not from petrol vehicles or lead industry.
If you know of any research on lead in blood in people in Mongolia then that is always a good starting point but it is not essential. Just knowing that there is lead in the petrol means that the number one priority for reducing air pollution from vehicles is to take the lead out of the petrol so that vehicles with catalytic converters can be used, thus reducing nearly all of the different types of vehicle air pollution.
The first problem about which the World Health Organisation has written a guide to assess the burden of disease is the problem of lead poisoning. Scientists and policy makers can use the guide to estimate the costs to Mongolia or to Ulaanbaatar of lead poisoning. Please see "Lead: Assessing the environmental burden of disease" - the guide also points out that it is important to know the most common sources of lead in your country. Chances are however, that banning leaded petrol is the most important first step in reducing lead poisoning and environmental lead contamination in Mongolia but especially in Ulaanbaatar.
You can find a map showing which countries in the Asia Pacific region are still selling leaded petrol at www.unep.org/pcfv/Documents/MapAPLead-20Dec-sm.jpg - [Update 2010: www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/MapAPLead-April2010.pdf] none of the countries to the south of Mongolia is selling leaded petrol for road vehicles any longer [and although Australia is still listed as selling leaded petrol on the map, leaded petrol is less than 1% of the petrol now sold in Australia].
At the Third Global Meeting of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) that I attended in New Delhi in December last year, the following discussion point was noted in the Proceedings:
"The use of joint Partnership delegations with high-level participants to visit countries as a means of convincing them to phase-out lead was discussed, especially as in many countries, the issue of the phase-out seems to be more political than technical/economic." [see http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/3GPM-Summary-Final.pdf]
What this means is that as a representative of a non-government organisation in your country, the best information you can give to your Environment Minister is that the PCFV is able to provide a delegation to visit your country to help overcome any problems that the Minister states as the reason for the delay in banning leaded petrol.
The Proceedings of the meeting also noted: "Lead: the Clearing-House should collect data in order to make a global inventory of countries still using lead; a deadline should be set (or research should be done to find/publicise deadlines already set) for global lead phase-out; there should be a Q&A section on the PCFV website for lead issues."
To this end, you will find a useful Asia Pacific inventory at www.unep.org/pcfv/Documents/LeadMatrix-Asia-Pacific.pdf
Update 2012: www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/Maps_Matrices/AP/matrix/AsiaPacific_combined
You will also find a basic Question and Answer section at http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/Pub-AECLP-Myths.pdf as well as a booklet called "Getting the lead out: Downstream strategies and resources for phasing out leaded gasoline" at http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/Pub-IPIECA-LeadOut.pdf - and you can usefully refer the Minister to all of these web-publications.
You can also take some of the arguments from the PCFV website and put them straight into your letter to the Minister, for example:
"Catalytic converters, which control other significant vehicle pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, are now installed in over 85% of new gasoline-fuelled cars manufactured around the world, but cannot be used with leaded gasoline, since lead renders the catalyst ineffective." [Reference: http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/PubELCI-ULP.pdf]
As long as you let the Minister know that there is help available by emailing email@example.com and that your organisation demands an action plan to achieve the earliest possible phase-out date - for example in 6 weeks from now - then you should receive an answer to your letter and hopefully it will be positive!
Good luck! Don't forget to web-publish your letter to the Minister (on your website if you have one or the website of any other NGO who will help you) and maybe put out a media release.
Please write again to let me know how you are going and with more details about Mongolia's air pollution.
From: The LEAD Group
I hope this finds you well. My name is Madeline Aitken and I am currently working with the Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS), managing the Global Leaded Petrol Ban project. I understand that you contacted the manager of GLASS, Elizabeth O'Brien, earlier in the year seeking advice on how to campaign for the phase-out of leaded petrol in Mongolia. I would love to know how your campaign is going.
As part of the project that I'm doing, I have drafted a letter that can be sent to Ministers in countries yet to ban leaded petrol urging them to do so. I wondered how your campaign was going, and thought that you might find this letter useful. The letter is included below as part of this email. If it would be easier for you to receive this as an attachment please let me know and I will send it again. Anything in single inverted commas (for example, 'Date') needs to be modified by you. If you want to make any major changes to the letter, please let me know before you send it off. Otherwise, print the letter, sign it and send it off to the Minister. Good luck and please web-publish your letter to the Minister (on your website if you have one or the website of any other NGO who will help you) and maybe put out a media release.
Thankyou very much for your time Mrs Erdenechuluun. I look forward to hearing from you.
The Global Lead
Advice and Support Service (GLASS) – run by The LEAD Group Inc.
DRAFT LETTER THAT CAN BE SENT TO MINISTERS IN COUNTRIES YET TO BAN LEADED PETROL
Dear ‘Mr/Mrs/Dr Someone’,
This letter is written on behalf of past, present and future generations of Mongolian children, to alert you to the many problems that are caused by leaded petrol and, more importantly, to urge you - as Mongolia’s Minister for Nature and Environment - to introduce the phase-out of leaded petrol in Mongolia, for the benefit of all of Mongolia’s people.
Lead poisoning is a serious health hazard with major socio-economic implications. Lead is a potent neurotoxin (nerve poison) and children, whose growing bodies are highly susceptible, are particularly vulnerable to its effects. In Johannesburg in South Africa, where leaded petrol is still sold, a 2002 survey of lead in the blood of schoolchildren found that 78% of them equaled or exceeded the current international action level. Relatively low levels of exposure to lead can reduce IQ scores, cause learning disabilities, poor school performance, and violent behaviour, resulting in a diminished capacity for lifetime earnings. This has adverse economic and social consequences for society as a whole. In developed countries, only a small minority of children are affected by high lead exposures. Due to the dispersive nature of its use, leaded petrol causes more widespread human exposure to lead than any other single source. (For more information, see the website of the World Health Organization www.who.int/en/).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a guide – “Lead: Assessing the environmental burden of disease” – which can be used to calculate the environmental, social and financial costs that are presently being incurred by Mongolia as a result of lead-poisoning. Focused action aimed at the prevention of exposure is essential to the elimination of these costs, and the banning of leaded petrol is the first step in reducing lead-poisoning and environmental lead contamination in Mongolia.
In relation to
the leaded petrol phase-out status of the rest of the Asia-Pacific, Mongolia has
some catching up to do. A map has been published on the website of the
Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) showing which countries in the
Asia-Pacific region are still selling leaded petrol (www.unep.org/pcfv/Documents/MapAPLead-20Dec-sm.jpg
Update 2010: www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/MapAPLead-April2010.pdf). According to the
PCFV, Mongolia has not planned a date for the phase-out
). Update 2012: www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/Maps_Matrices/AP/matrix/AsiaPacific_combined
As Mongolia’s Minister for Nature and Environment, the question, “When is Mongolia going to phase-out leaded petrol so that Mongolian children will have the same chance at growth and development as children in countries which have already achieved the phase-out?”, must be asked of you. This matter is of great importance to the socio-economic growth and development of Mongolia as a whole. The phase-out of leaded petrol is an urgent priority for Mongolia because it will enable children to enter school ready to learn and allow individuals to become more productive members of Mongolian society, ultimately improving Mongolia’s national competitiveness.
The transition from leaded to unleaded petrol has benefits which extend beyond those associated with the health problems caused by lead in petrol, for example, “Catalytic converters, which control other significant vehicle pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, are now installed in over 85% of new petrol-fueled cars manufactured around the world, but cannot be used with leaded petrol, since lead renders the catalyst ineffective.” (See http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/PubELCI-ULP.pdf ). More information about the low costs and high benefits of phase-out can be found at http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/Pub-AECLP-Myths.pdf. There are many publications that assist in understanding the process of phasing-out leaded petrol. The booklet, “Getting the lead out: Downstream strategies and resources for phasing out leaded petrol”, is available online at www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/Pub-IPIECA-LeadOut.pdf , and gives a comprehensive account of the wide range of options that exist for countries making the transition from leaded to unleaded fuel.
The Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) was established at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002 (See www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/index.asp ) and is part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). At the third Global Meeting of the PCFV held in Delhi in December last year, the global phase-out of leaded fuel was discussed as a matter of extreme urgency that should be achieved as soon as possible (See, http://www.unep.org/transport/pcfv/PDF/3GPM-Summary-Final.pdf ). As such, the PCFV is very keen, and well prepared, to assist countries to make the transition from leaded to unleaded fuel. The PCFV will provide a delegation to visit Mongolia to help plan and execute the transition. The phase-out of leaded petrol in Mongolia could happen in as little as six weeks.
‘The sending Organisation’ would like to see the development of an action plan for the achievement of the phase-out of leaded petrol in Mongolia by the earliest possible date, and requests that the Ministry of Nature and Environment make contact with the PCFV secretariat representative for Asia – Shoa Eshani, via email at Shoa.Eshani@unep.org, or telephone +(254-20) 625035.
There are many problems in Mongolia and the world. Some of these are overwhelming and solutions seem impossible. Leaded-petrol is not one of these problems. Phasing-out leaded-petrol is an issue of rare simplicity; the arguments for infinitely outweigh those against. This, along with the assurance of support from international bodies like the UN, makes the decision you are faced with as the Minister for Nature and Environment an uncomplicated one. Environmentally, socially, economically and politically, the only positive option for Mongolia is to phase-out leaded petrol.
Working in Association with,
The Global Lead
Advice and Support Service (GLASS) – run by The LEAD Group Inc.
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