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Used cars threatening Africans, environment, says study


• Nigeria, others may miss carbon emission target
African and South Asian countries may miss national targets to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions unless rich countries stop using them as dumping grounds for millions of old cars, known as clunkers, a study has warned.

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) reported that the United States (U.S.), Japan and European Union (EU) countries had for years been dumping old, used cars on nations such as Nigeria and Bangladesh.

The used vehicles, which should have been scrapped under domestic regulations, are instead dumped on developing nations where they contribute to carbon emissions, said CSE, a New Delhi-based think-tank.

Weak environmental regulations in poorer economies and stronger emissions regulations in exporting countries are among the factors “inciting this unregulated global trade in clunkers,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE.

“If this continues unchecked, without the exporting countries sharing the responsibility of addressing the problem, the poorer countries will not be able to meet their clean air and climate mitigation goals,” she said during a press conference on Facebook Live.

There are about two billion vehicles globally, two per cent (40 million) of which are deemed road-unworthy in developed nations annually, according to the report.

Many of them end up in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Ninety per cent of Nigeria’s 3.5 million cars are imported second-hand, according to data from the management consultancy firm, Deloitte.

These old, ill-maintained and often malfunctioning vehicles become energy guzzlers and emit high levels of heat-trapping gases, said the CSE.

Though the level of emissions in less-developed nations is lower than the world average, clunkers are a rapidly rising source of pollution, added the report.

If left uncontrolled, clunkers could jeopardise climate goals set by poorer nations on reducing GHG emissions as part of an international pact to slow down global warming. The cars are also contributing to high levels of air pollution in cities like Dhaka and Lagos, increasing the risk of lung diseases, respiratory illnesses and cancer, it added.

But experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said many low-income countries still lacked a comprehensive set of policies to keep a check on imported clunkers.

“Our observation is that countries that lack policies and incentives to attract cleaner vehicles are importing inefficient vehicles that emit greenhouse gases above the global averages,” said Jane Akumu of UNEP’s Air Quality and Mobility Unit.

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