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UN raises alarm over dangers of exported used cars dumped on Africa, developing nations

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The United Nations has warned that there are dangers in the exportation of used cars which are being dumped in Africa and other developing nations across the world.

In a report published on Monday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the body highlighted that the used cars contribute to increased air pollution in developing nations and hinder efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

According to the report, about 14 million used light-duty vehicles were exported worldwide between 2015 and 2018. Some 80 per cent went to low- and middle-income countries, with more than half going to Africa.

The report revealed that African countries imported the largest number of used vehicles (40 per cent) in the period studied, followed by countries in Eastern Europe (24 per cent), Asia-Pacific (15 per cent), the Middle East (12 per cent) and Latin America (nine per cent).

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“Cleaning up the global vehicle fleet is a priority to meet global and local air quality and climate targets,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “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.”

“The lack of effective standards and regulation is resulting in the dumping of old, polluting and unsafe vehicles,” she added. “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”

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According to UNEP, the transport sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Vehicle emissions are a significant source of the fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides that are major causes of urban air pollution.

The report which is based on an in-depth analysis of some 146 countries discovered that two-thirds have “weak” or “very weak” policies to regulate the import of vehicles past their prime.

UNEP further added that 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.

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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.

Ms. 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.

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