Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Polluting and Dangerous Cars

 Millions of highly polluting used cars from rich countries are being "dumped" on developing nations, according to a UN report. Between 2015 and 2018, some 14 million older, poor quality vehicles were exported from Europe, Japan and the US.

Four out of five were sold to poorer countries, with more than half going to Africa. Experts say that up to 80% failed to meet minimum safety and environmental standards in exporting countries. Many of the vehicles have also been tampered with to remove valuable parts. They cut out catalytic converters, because the platinum value is worth $500. And they put in a piece of steel pipe and weld it back in. They have illegally removed the airbags, because they have a value in Europe, they have illegally removed the anti-lock brake system because it has a value and is being sold on the black market. As well as causing accidents, these cars make air pollution worse and contribute heavily to climate change.

 Researchers found that regulations on car imports in the majority of the 146 countries they studied were "weak" or "very weak".

Many of the vehicles did not meet a vehicle emission standard that is called Euro 4," said Rob de Jong, from Unep, one of the report's authors. The Euro 4 car standard came into force in Europe in January 2005. That means that those vehicles emit 90% more emissions because they are not meeting this minimal standard.

According to the authors, these cars are responsible for increased levels of road accidents in many poorer African and Asian countries. The cars are also pumping out fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, which are major sources of air pollution in many cities.

"In 2017, the average age of a diesel vehicle imported into Uganda was over 20 years old," said Jane Akumu, also from Unep. "This is the same story for Zimbabwe. In fact, around 30 countries of Africa do not have any age limit on cars. So, any kind of car of any kind of age, can come in."

The growing realisation of the dangers posed by these cars has seen several importing countries stiffen their regulations. Morocco only permits cars less than five years old to be imported. Kenya also has an age limit of eight years for imported cars. On a regional level, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), representing 15 countries, has set cleaner fuel and vehicle standards from January 2021.

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