In the past week, five west African countries – Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast – announced plans to end the practice of European oil companies and traders exporting “African quality” diesel. “African quality” fuel is highly polluting fuel that contain sulphur levels sometimes hundreds of times higher than European levels that could never be sold in Europe. It’s been termed “dirty fuel” because the diesel imported from Europe contain levels of sulphur as high as 3,000 parts per million (ppm) when the European maximum has been 10 ppm since 2009 (the same as here in New Zealand). Fuels with high-sulphur content are contributors to respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma.
A report published by Swiss NGO Public Eye in September accused oil companies for exporting fuels to west Africa, “allowing traders and companies to exploit weak standards to export cheap, dirty fuels in a process that Public Eye said was maximising profits at the expense of African’s health.”
As part of an initiative by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the west African nations have agreed to ban imports of high-sulphur diesel fuels with permitted levels of sulphur in imported diesel will fall from 3,000 ppm in some of the countries to 50 ppm. The head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim said: “West Africa is sending a strong message that is it no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe. Their decision to set strict new standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emission standards shows they are placing the health of their people first.”
The five countries have also agreed to upgrade their national refineries to bring locally produced diesel up to the same quality by 2020.
Read the full article here, and the opinion piece by Lola O about corporate responsibility “Africa is being choked. But corporations leave their grime on us all”
[Source: The Guardian, 6 December 2016]