ADDIS ABEBA – The United Nations’ Study claims rich countries are dumping millions of highly polluting used cars on poorer nations.
The study – the first-ever of its kind – found that some 14 million used cars, vans and minibuses were exported worldwide from Europe, the United States and Japan between 2015 and 2018.
Around 80 per cent, went to low and middle income countries, with more than half going to Africa, it says.
“Cleaning up the global vehicle fleet is a priority to meet global and local air quality and climate targets”, said Inger Andersen, the UNEP Executive Director.
“Over the years, developed countries have increasingly exported their used vehicles to developing countries; because this largely happens unregulated, this has become the export of polluting vehicles.”
Few African countries have regulations on car imports.
Poor quality second-hand autos also lead to more road accidents. Countries such as Malawi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Burundi, which have “weak” or very weak” used vehicle regulations, have very high road traffic death rates, according to UNEP.
However, countries that implement age and emissions standards, or other such measures, receive high-quality used vehicles including hybrid and electric cars, and at an affordable rate.
They also have fewer accidents on the road.
Andersen said the lack of effective standards and regulation means that old, polluting and unsafe vehicles are effectively being dumped.
“Developed countries must stop exporting vehicles that fail environment and safety inspections and are no longer considered roadworthy in their own countries, while importing countries should introduce stronger quality standards,” she charged.
Through its ports, the Netherlands is one of the exporters of used vehicles from Europe.
A recent review conducted by The Netherlands of its exports found that most of these vehicles did not have a valid roadworthiness certificate at the time of export, according to UNEP.
“Most vehicles were between 16 and 20 years old, and most fell below EURO4 European Union vehicles emission standards,” says the study.
The average age of used vehicles exported to the Gambia was close to 19 years old, while a quarter of used vehicles exported to Nigeria were almost 20 years old.
A woman walks past old French cars waiting to be repaired in a garage in Niamey, Niger, on July 9, 2019. [Photo Getty Images]