An increasing number of poor quality used cars are being shipped from the United States, the European Union and Japan to countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The trade is largely unregulated. And that is a problem. — Rob de Jong, head of the sustainable mobility unit for the United Nations Environment Program
An increasing number of poor quality used cars are being shipped from the United States, the European Union and Japan to countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The trade is largely unregulated. And that is a problem. — Rob de Jong, head of the sustainable mobility unit for the United Nations Environment Program

We all too often are able to console ourselves with the idea that if we’re improving what we’re doing, what happens beyond that is not really our problem. It’s a joint responsibility. As long as dirty vehicles exist, our climate problem isn’t helped at all. — Sheila Watson, deputy director of the FIA Foundation
We all too often are able to console ourselves with the idea that if we’re improving what we’re doing, what happens beyond that is not really our problem. It’s a joint responsibility. As long as dirty vehicles exist, our climate problem isn’t helped at all. — Sheila Watson, deputy director of the FIA Foundation

Dirty Car Exports Threaten Climate Goals
When consumers in the United States and other wealthy nations shed their gas-fueled cars for more environmentally friendly, cleaner ones, like hybrids and electrics, they feel like they are being good citizens, helping to improve air quality and make the planet better.

But where do their old cars go and what harm can they cause?

“Global dumping of substandard, ‘dirty’ cars is a huge problem,” said Rob de Jong, head of the sustainable mobility unit for the United Nations Environment Program, based in Nairobi.

“An increasing number of poor quality used cars are being shipped from the United States, the European Union and Japan to countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia,” Mr. de Jong said. The trade is largely unregulated. And that is a problem, he said.

“Many cars don’t meet the safety and environmental standards in host countries, Mr. de Jong said.

His unit released “Used Vehicles and the Environment” last year, which found that millions of poor quality, older used cars, vans and minibuses threaten health, safety and the environment, “contributing significantly to air pollution and hindering efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.”


In an analysis of 146 countries, about two-thirds were found to have “weak” or “very weak” policies for regulating the import of used vehicles. Between 2015 and 2018, about 80 percent of the 14 million used light-duty vehicles exported worldwide went to low- and middle-income countries.

... “The phenomenon was already significant 10 years ago,” said Pierpaolo Cazzola, adviser for energy, technology and environmental sustainability at the International Transport Forum, a Paris-based intergovernmental organization within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “I think that the problem could get worse.”

Mr. Cazzola said developed nations’ transition to low- and zero- emission vehicles exacerbated the problem. “They are more likely to retain them at the end of their useful life for second life use and the recycling of valuable battery materials,” he said. “If left unchecked, this could flood emerging economies with older combustion engine vehicles and may delay the speed of the global response to climate change.”

The global fleet of light duty vehicles — primarily passenger cars — is expected to double by 2050, the report noted, with more than 90 percent of the motorization likely to occur in developing nations.

... Discussions are underway to establish quality standards for used vehicles. The European Union is in the process of revising its end-of-life vehicle directive; some U.N. members states are consulting about a possible resolution; several organizations that represent African countries are developing national and regional standards, and a solution to harmonize standards globally will likely start next year, Mr. de Jong said. “Agreeing on a set of regulations would be a massive benefit to the environment and road safety.”

Still, the progress being made is not fast enough to address climate change, said Sheila Watson, deputy director of the FIA Foundation, a London-based nonprofit that works with governments around the world to support safe and sustainable mobility.

“We all too often are able to console ourselves with the idea that if we’re improving what we’re doing, what happens beyond that is not really our problem,” Ms. Watson said. But what benefits one place could worsen conditions elsewhere. “It’s a joint responsibility,” she said. “As long as dirty vehicles exist, our climate problem isn’t helped at all.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/31/climate/car-recycling-environment.html