Europe Leads The Polluting Business Of Exporting Used Cars To The Poorest Countries

The UN warns that the lack of regulation has generated a market for “aged, unsafe and polluting” vehicles of which Africa is the main recipient

The European Union is an international benchmark in imposing limits on polluting emissions and carbon dioxide to the automotive sector  The thresholds are becoming stricter and seek the decarbonisation of road transport in the EU and improve air quality

But the process of renewing the European car fleet has a bside the export of old cars to countries with fewer resources An extensive report by the United Nations Environment Program UNEP on the problems associated with this market places the European Union as the largest exporter of secondhand light vehicles in the world This UN body calls for international regulations to be created to control this unregulated trade

The EU removed 76 million used cars outside its borders between 2015 and 2018 according to the report The main destinations were West Africa and the Eastern European bloc the Caucasus and Central Asia The trio of the worlds major exporters is completed by Japan and the United States

The three added 14 million secondhand light vehicles exported in that period On the other side of this chain is Africa which is the main recipient accumulates 40 of those 14 million followed by the countries of Eastern Europe 24 Asia 15 the Middle East 12 and Latin America 9

The UN environmental body warns that the absence of regional or global agreements on the trade and transit of secondhand cars is having important consequences a global trade in obsolete aging unsafe and polluting used vehicles has been generated

Most of the exported vehicles could not circulate on the roads in the countries that have exported them says Rob de Jong head of Sustainable Mobility at UNEP

The Government of the Netherlands decided a couple of years ago to carry out an analysis of its exports through the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam

The study focused on fiscal years 2017 and 2018 when 35000 used vehicles were exported to West Africa from those two cities Marietta Harjono one of the reports authors points out that most of these cars were between 16 and 20 years old In addition 160 cars were analyzed and most did not have a technical inspection in order so they could not circulate on the Dutch roads

The 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States Cedeao They have just agreed that from 2021 they will impose common minimum requirements for the arrival of secondhand cars

The threshold set is the Euro 4 standard which was approved in 2005 by the EU and establishes maximum limits for the emissions of various pollutants the current standard that governs new cars in Europe is Euro 6 Starting next year those African states will only be able to enter for sale cars that were manufactured under Euro 4 standards or higher But the report carried out in the Netherlands concludes that more than 80 of the vehicles that left the two Dutch ports in the analyzed period could not be exported with the new measures approved by Cedeao

They are Euro 3 2 1 and even 0 points out Harjono

Regulation
The UN report not only highlights the problems of exporting countries it also points to importers which for the most part do not impose harsh restrictions on the entry of secondhand cars

UNEP experts have studied the laws of 146 countries and conclude that twothirds have weak or very weak policies on the entry of used vehicles For example only 18 states of those analyzed have completely closed their borders to secondhand cars In 66 of the 146 they limit the age of imported cars a restriction that ranges from three to 15 years

Africa again appears as the loosest regional market Only 10 countries have good or very good regulation for imports says Jana Akumu one of the authors of the UNEP report Two examples of good practices are Morocco and Ghana which have already established the Euro 4 standard as a limit for driveway

UNEP proposes in its report that harmonized regional or world regulations be approved to control this trade and that the sale of unsafe dirty and defective cars be stopped Regulations should gradually tighten over the next decade says the UN environmental agency

Lowemission and zeroemission used vehicles should be promoted as an affordable way for low and middleincome countries to access advanced technologies he adds

European countries have to work together with African countries Harjono sums up The Minister of the Environment of the Netherlands Stientje Van Veldhoven has admitted this Monday through a statement that the report shows that it is necessary to take urgent measures to improve the quality of used vehicles exported from Europe

But he maintains that actions must be addressed in a coordinated way in the EU Of all the countries of the Union Germany is the main exporter of this type of used vehicle with almost half of the entire European quota in the period 20152018

Projections suggest that the number of light vehicles in the world will have doubled by 2050 And about 90 of this increase will occur in countries considered developing those that are not part of the OECD and that are the major importers of secondhand cars

For this reason UNEP affirms that cleaning the world fleet of automobiles is a priority to meet global and local objectives for air quality and climate change Air pollution causes seven million deaths in the world every year De Jong added as a warning

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