Of the 2-billion global vehicle fleet,over 40 million vehicles — 4 per cent of global automobile ownership– reach end-of-life every year. Large numbers of these get traded to low and middle income countries of Africa and South Asia.
About 80-90 per cent of vehicles imported to Africa are old and used. Emissions of toxic pollutants, heat-trapping greenhouse gases and black carbon are worsening public health and climate change risks.
Importing countries are fighting the problem with age-caps, higher taxes on older vehicles, emissions-based taxation or outright bans.
Exporting countries must also take responsibility to stop old and damaged vehicles from entering the global market,and support in-use emissions management and scrapping of older vehicles in poorer countries.
· Entire developing world, including vehicle-producing countries like India that use vehicles more intensely, face the challenge of scrapping their large stocks of end-of-life vehicles without the requisite capacity.
The CSE study lifts the lid on the dark underbelly of a large-scale global trade in old and used vehicles from high income to low and middle income countries of Africa and South Asia. the trade, says CSE, is causing massive environmental dumping and toxic pollution.
Every year, out of the staggering global vehicle stock of two billion, more than 40 million vehicles approach end-of-life. But instead of being scrapped within domestic markets, a large number of these are sold in low and middle income countries that do not have the capacity to manage their polluting emissions.
Cheaper price, weak environmental regulations in poorer economies, lure of a rich variety of vehicle models and stronger emission regulations in high income exporting countries are inciting this unregulated global trade in clunkers (as these old vehicles are called).
In high income exporting countries it is more lucrative and cost-effective to export used vehicles than scrap them says Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, CSE.
If this continues unchecked, without the exporting countries sharing the responsibility of addressing this problem, the poorer countries will not be able to meet their clean air and climate mitigation goals,” she adds.
CSE researchers point out that the state of Global Air-2018 that the study shows that North Africa has the highest concentration of population-weighted annual average particulate matter: Nigeria is in the lead.
Many cities in Africa are violating the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines by several times. South Asian cities are no better. They have some of the worst air pollution episodes.
The burden of diseases triggered by air pollution like lung diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, heart ailments and strokes are increasing rapidly.
Vehicles are responsible for this exposure to toxic pollution. Says Roychowdhury, ‘The global community which has, time and again, expressed its deep concern about the deteriorating air quality in the southern world, cannot look away from this problem of dumping anymore.’
Africa is motorising on used vehicle import
Nearly the entire motorisation in Africa is taking place based on imported vehicles. Data on international trade in new and old vehicles shows that Africa importsvehicles from nearly 17 countries, with Japan, Germany, the US and South Korea dominating the trade.
While most cars come from these countries, two-wheelers come predominantly from India and China. Cars and commercial vehicles have a higher share of the used vehicle imports.
According to the Deloitte Africa Automotive Report, about 85 per cent of the vehicles in Ethiopia, 80 per cent in Kenya and 90 per cent in Nigeria are second-hand. While the vehicle ownership rate in Africa is lower than the world average, the growth rate has increased.
Poorer the country, higher is the average age of vehicles due to the predominance of old vehicles on their roads. The average age of light-duty vehicles in the high income and high per capita gross domestic product (GDP)countries like UK, Japan, Germany and France,is less than eight years. But in countries of Africa and South Asia, with lower per capita GDP, the average age is 12-17 yearsor more.
This is due to the high import dependence on old and used vehicles.
Emissions regulations for vehicles and fuel quality in most vehicle-importing countries are very weak. Even though South and East Africancountries have adopted 50 ppm sulphur fuels, they have not yet opted for commensurate Euro-IV emissions standardsfor vehicles due to consumer pressure for cheaper used vehicles.
The rest of Africa uses very high sulphur diesel (in the range of 1,000-10,000 ppm):this does not allow the use of advanced emissions control systems.>