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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

29 August 2002

Global Partnership for Cleaner Fuel, Cleaner Air


Australia has joined a global effort to clear the air in developing countries with a partnership announced today at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Australia's Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced Australia's participation in the partnership to address urban air pollution by improving fuel quality in developing countries.

The Global Partnership for Cleaner Fuels for Cleaner Air will focus on phasing out lead in gasoline, reducing sulfur in diesel and gasoline, and introducing vehicle and emission control technologies to reduce emissions.

"The Asian brown cloud is a graphic reminder that air pollution does not recognise borders - global problems require global solutions." Dr Kemp said. "Improving fuel quality is a key factor in reducing urban air pollution. The partnership for cleaner fuels will be an important mechanism to address global air quality and related health impacts."

The voluntary, 'Type 2' partnership, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the International Fuel Quality Centre, brings together governments, industry, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations to assist developing country governments to address motor vehicle emissions.

They include European and Japanese associations of automotive manufacturers, an international alliance to end childhood lead poisoning and the United States Environment Protection Authority. "Australia is very pleased to be a partner in this important initiative which will have concrete environmental outcomes - cleaner fuel; cleaner air," Dr Kemp said. "We are backing our participation with a contribution of $A100,000.

"Australia has recently introduced national fuel quality standards which phase out lead in gasoline, and reduce sulfur, aromatics and benzene.

"These new standards will have a major impact on the amount of toxic pollutants in vehicle emissions, such as benzene and particles, with studies estimating reductions of up to 50 per cent for some pollutants over 20 years.

"This is great news for Australians - cleaner air means fewer respiratory illnesses, which could save Australia more than $3 billion in health costs by then.

We have taken a pragmatic approach which significantly improves fuel quality but takes account of local industry capacity and vehicle fleet. We look forward to sharing our experience with our Asian neighbours."

Australia's participation in the partnership will be focussed in Asia. Australia has a direct interest in the quality of fuel from Asia, as about six per cent of our fuel is imported from the region.

The partnership as a whole will include workshops in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, assistance with policies and regulations for cleaner fuel and public awareness campaigns on the benefits of using cleaner fuels.

Dr Kemp hailed Type 2 partnerships as one of the most exciting outcomes of the World Summit. "They enable partners to work together, on the ground, to achieve real environmental outcomes and associated health benefits on a global scale," he said.

Information on fuel quality standards in Australia is available from Environment Australia's web site at http://www.ea.gov.au/atmosphere/transport/fuel/index.html

Media contacts:
Dr Peter Poggioli, +61412 970063

Commonwealth of Australia