The old cars dumped by high-income countries into Africa and South Asia pose a threat to the environment and public health because of the toxic pollution they cause.
That’s the warning from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in India, with a new global study on what happens to more than 40 million vehicles each year that approach the end of their design lives without improved emissions technology – and then get dumped on the road in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya, where 80 percent or more of the vehicles are secondhand.
“Cheaper price, weak environmental regulations in poorer economies, lure of a rich variety of vehicle models and stronger emissions regulations in high income exporting countries are inciting this unregulated global trade in clunkers,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, the CSE executive director for research and advocacy. “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.”
The West African nation of Nigeria already struggles with poor air quality, as do many North African nations. “They have some of the worst air pollution episodes,” Roychowdhury said. “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.”
The CSE calls on the global community to stop looking away from the problem of deteriorating air quality in the Global South, and follow the lead of countries including Egypt and Morocco, which have banned used vehicle imports while improving on their policies. A new Uganda ban was enacted last month.
“Clunkered: Combating Dumping of Used Vehicles – A roadmap for Africa and South Asia” is available from the New Delhi-based organization.