The export of millions of used vehicles is an environmental scourge...

The export of millions of used vehicles is an environmental scourge...
The export of millions of used vehicles is an environmental scourge...

Millions of low-quality second-hand cars, vans and minibuses are exported from Europe, the United States and Japan to developing countries. This contributes significantly to air pollution and hinders efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, says a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The report shows that between 2015 and 2018, 14 million used light vehicles were exported worldwide. About 80% of these exports went to low and middle income countries, more than half of which went to Africa.

The rapidly growing global vehicle fleet is a major contributor to air pollution and climate change. Globally, the transport sector is responsible for almost a quarter of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. More specifically, vehicle emissions are a major source of fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and are major causes of urban air pollution.

« Sanitation of the global fleet is a priority to meet global and local air quality and climate goals Says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. ” Over the years, developed countries have exported more and more used vehicles to developing countries. As happens largely without regulation, this export has become that of polluting vehicles. ».

« Lack of effective standards and regulations facilitates dumping of old, polluting and dangerous vehicles », She added. ” Developed countries should stop exporting vehicles that do not meet the criteria of environmental and safety inspections and that are no longer considered to be in good working order in their country of origin, while importing countries should introduce stricter quality standards. »

The report, based on an in-depth analysis of 146 countries, found that two-thirds of them have “weak” or even “very weak” policies for regulating the import of used vehicles. However, the report also shows that when countries implement measures to regulate the importation of used vehicles, including age and emissions standards, these allow them access to used vehicles. used good quality, including hybrid and electric cars, at affordable prices.
For example, Morocco only authorizes the import of vehicles less than five years old and those which meet the European emission standard EURO4; the country therefore receives only relatively sophisticated and clean second-hand vehicles from Europe.

The report finds that African countries imported the most used vehicles (40%) during the study period, followed by countries in Eastern Europe (24%), Asia-Pacific (15%), Middle East (12%) and Latin America (9%).

The Netherlands, through its ports, is one of the exporters of used vehicles from Europe. A recent study by the Netherlands on their exports revealed that most of these vehicles did not have a valid MOT certificate at the time of export. Most of the vehicles were between 16 and 20 years old, and most were below the European Union’s EURO4 emission standards for vehicles. For example, the average age of used vehicles exported to The Gambia was close to 19 years, while a quarter of used vehicles exported to Nigeria were almost 20 years old.

« These results show that urgent action is needed to improve the quality of used vehicles exported from Europe. The Netherlands cannot tackle this problem alone. This is why I call for a coordinated European approach and close cooperation between European and African governments, to ensure that the EU only exports vehicles suitable for their destination and which comply with the standards set by the countries. importers », Said Stientje Van Veldhoven, Dutch Minister for the Environment.

UNEP, with support from the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund and other agencies, is part of a new initiative that supports the introduction of minimum standards for used vehicles. The initiative will focus primarily on the countries of the African continent; a number of African countries have already established minimum quality standards, including Morocco, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mauritius, and many more have shown interest in joining the initiative.

« The effects of old polluting vehicles are obvious. Accra air quality data confirms that transportation is the main source of air pollution in our cities. That is why Ghana prioritizes cleaner fuels and vehicle standards, as well as the possibilities of electric buses. Ghana was the first country in the West Africa region to adopt low sulfur fuels and this month it imposed a ten year age limit on used vehicle imports ”Said Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Ghanaian Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.

Last month, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set standards for cleaner fuels and vehicles starting in January 2021. ECOWAS members also urged the introduction of seniority limits for used vehicles.

This new report, the very first of its kind, titled Used Vehicles and the Environment – A Global Overview of Used Light Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation (Used Vehicles and the Environment – A Global Overview of Light Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation) used: throughput, scale and regulation), urges action to be taken to fill the current policy vacuum and calls for the adoption of harmonized minimum quality standards that will ensure that used vehicles contribute to larger fleets of vehicles. cleaner and safer in importing countries.

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