Rich Nations Have Sold 14 Million “Dirty and Dangerous” Vehicles to Developing Nations

Image: Skitterpro

by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer

A new report from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) found that rich nations, including the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands, are exporting “dirty and dangerous” cars to developing countries en masse.

Why This Matters: There are about 1.4 billion cars on the roads across the globe, and that number is expected to reach 2 billion by 2040. A majority of that growth is happening in developing countries, many of whom have weak standards for vehicles if any. 

Half of the 14 million cars exported landed in Africa, where 30 countries don’t have any limit on the age of imported cars. These older cars don’t meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, and experts say that means they produce up to 90% more emissions than cars sold legally in the EU. These emissions contribute to climate change and harm air quality. 

Developing nations have been hit hardest by climate change already, enduring flooding, famine, and more, despite 92% of excess emissions being produced by the Global North. This global power imbalance is in full swing in the African and Asian car markets, where developed nations have pawned off not only their obsolete vehicles but also their pollution.

Sold in Bad Faith: Many of the vehicles sold have been tampered with before export to remove important and valuable parts for sale elsewhere. Rob de Jong, a co-author of the report, described the gutting of exported vehicles, “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,” he said. “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.” De Jong and his colleagues believe that the sale of these cars is responsible for increased levels of road accidents in many poorer Asian and African nations. 

 

Higher Standards: Fifty-four percent of the substandard vehicles exported came from Europe, many from the Netherlands. Stientje van Veldhoven, the Netherlands minister for the environment has called for a coordinated approach from European leadership and cooperation with African nations to “ensure that the EU only exports vehicles that are fit for purpose, and compliant with standards set by importing countries.” 

  • Many of the developing nations that imported the vehicles have created new standards in response to the dangers presented by the imports.
  •  Kenya and Morocco updated age limits on imported cars to 8 and 5 years respectively, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which represents 15 African nations, has created new emissions standards that will go into effect in 2021.

 

De Jong believes that only action across the supply chain can solve the issue and prevent disaster, 

On one hand, I think it’s unethical that these developed countries export vehicles that are not roadworthy on their own roads,” he said. “On the other hand, why have the importing countries been waiting so long to put in place some minimum standards? So I think the onus is not only on the exporting country, it’s really a joint responsibility.”

Up Next

62 Oil and Gas Companies Pledge to Reduce Methane, U.S. Companies Turn the Other Way

62 Oil and Gas Companies Pledge to Reduce Methane, U.S. Companies Turn the Other Way

This week, following a U.N. report showing that methane levels in the atmosphere are at an all-time high, more than 60 oil and gas companies joined a new voluntary agreement to report and reduce their emissions. The companies making the pledge represent 30% of global oil and gas operations, but none of them were American.

Why This Matters: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global oil and gas industry produced 82 gigatons of methane in 2019 alone.

Continue Reading 637 words

Ford Adding EV Jobs in Michigan and Missouri – Wants to Be “The Change”

Ford Motor Company announced last week that it is adding hundreds of union jobs in the midwestern states of Michigan and Missouri coupled with investments of hundreds of millions in several existing plants.

Why This Matters: The company appears ready for a new Biden administration — it even ran an ad during Sunday NFL games called “The Change” to publicize its commitment to lowering its carbon footprint. 

Continue Reading 489 words
Methane Leaks Globally Rise Dramatically Despite COVID-Related Slowdowns

Methane Leaks Globally Rise Dramatically Despite COVID-Related Slowdowns

In 2020, oil and gas use is down but methane leaks are up dramatically during the same time period according to a study by the energy data firm Kayrros, Reuters and The Washington Post reported.  Oil and gas companies had pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Why This Matters: Methane is a highly damaging greenhouse gas in its first 20 years after being emitted — it’s 80 to 90 times more potent than carbon dioxide during that time period.

Continue Reading 537 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.