Since 1996 leaded gas has been illegal in the United States, except for a few uses, such as aircraft, racing cars, farm equipment and marine engines. Most high-income countries had already prohibited the use of leaded gasoline, but it continued to be used widely in low- and middle-income countries, despite the fact that it causes heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
But in August the UN Environment Programme announced the official end of leaded gasoline worldwide. Algeria had just exhausted the last stock of the world’s leaded gas. It is predicted that this change will prevent more than 1.2 million premature deaths.1
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is scheduled to meet in Glasgow, Scotland this coming November. In addition to the participation of official national delegations, there will be numerous civil society activists, many of whom are planning to promote strong measures.
About 100 non-governmental organizations from around the world have signed a petition calling on governments to reduce military greenhouse gas emission. Also, over 12,000 individuals and organizations have signed a petition to stop excluding military pollution from climate agreements.2
In July, the Federation of American Scientists announced the discovery of first one, and then another nuclear missile silo field. The first announcement disclosed the ongoing construction of 120 missile silos near Yumen in Gamsu province. Then a few days later another field was discovered 240 miles northwest of the Yumen field near Hami in Eastern Xinjiang. This second field is at a much earlier stage of development, but it appears likely to contain about 110 silos.
They constitute the most significant expansion of Chinese nuclear arsenal ever.3 For details, see our interview with Matt Korda, whose research revealed this project: tosavetheworld.ca/310-chinas-nuclear-ambitions
The UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) met in August in Geneva. All negotiations on “killer robots” take place there in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Ray Acheson, reporting on the meeting for Reaching Critical Will, warned that it is hard to estimate:
“the degree of convergence on these issues, as CCW meetings are often dominated by the most militarily active states in the world. Yet despite the excessive volume of interventions by the few states that want autonomous weapons, the concerned majority have been able to articulate their demands for restrictions …
“The Non-Aligned Movement, Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Iraq, Ireland, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Switzerland, Uruguay, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Campaign to Stop Killer Robots (CSKR) called for the negotiation of a legally binding instrument on autonomous weapon systems.”
Bonnie Docherty of Harvard Law School adds that the convergence of opinions on this matter is growing and that most states parties are urging the CCW Review Conference to adopt a mandate to negotiate a new legal instrument addressing the risks of autonomous weapons.4
In August the Mexican government sued American gun-makers and distributors in a US federal court for damages caused by their firearms. The defendants include Smith & Wesson, Barrett, Ruger, and Colt. Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard presented the suit in a Massachusetts court, claiming that the damages had cost his country $10 billion and that his government should be compensated for the damage caused by their negligence.
Experts doubt that Mexico will win the case in U.S. courts, but it will focus public attention onto the problem of arms trafficking, which is the real point. According to Cecilia Farfan-Mendez, a researcher in San Diego, California, “they’re saying, ‘You’re concerned about drug trafficking, well we’re just as concerned about firearms trafficking.”5
1 Source: Michelle Lewis, “EGEB: The UN Announces the Official End of Leaded Gas Worldwide,” August 30, 2021. electrek.co/?s=Leaded+gas
2 Source: Reaching Critical Will, August E-News. www.reachingcriticalwill.org/news/latest-news/15377-august-e-news
4 Source: Ray Acheson and Bonnie Docherty, in CCW Report, Vol. 9 No. 3. August 8, 2021
5 Source: James Frederick, “Mexico’s Suit Against U.S. Gun Companies May Seek More than a Court Win,” npr, August 7, 2021. www.npr.org/2021/08/07/1025636092/mexico-lawsuit-united-states-gun-companies-analysis