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UNEP warns over heavy trucks pollution

Friday, February 23rd, 2024 10:30 | By
UNEP’s head of Secretariat, Climate and Clean Air Coalition Martina Otto (left) with head of Sustainable Mobility Unit Rob de Jong at the UN agency’s headquarters in Nairobi, yesterday. PHOTO/GEORGE KEBASO

African countries have been urged to revise their excise duty for importation of used heavy-duty vehicles upwards to curb pollutant locomotives and road carnage.

This is after the latest report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) revealed that rising usage of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) is a major contributor to rising pollution levels and increased respiratory diseases.

This has prompted calls for more stringent regulations including enhancing the African regulatory framework ahead of the 6th session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 6) meeting in Nairobi next week.

It emerged that African countries, Kenya included, charge a paltry Sh730,000 ($5000) for imports of HDVs from the European Union, compared to the US, which has imposed a Sh6.2 million ($40, 000). The EU, Japan, Korea and the US, are the leading exporters of used HDVs.

“To date no country has minimum requirements for exporting used HDVs,” says the report, which finds regulations in over half of used HDV importing countries to be ‘weak’ or ‘very weak’ and enforcement to be inadequate.

Carbon emissions

The report for example, indicates that while 25 African countries have adopted standards on used HDVs towards air pollution control, climate mitigation and improved road safety only four have fully implemented these. Worldwide, only two countries have included used vehicles in their national climate action plans (NDCs).

And while HDV exports represent a modest 3.6 percent of the global automotive trade’s total value, their associated CO2 emissions have surged by over 30 percent since 2,000, with trucks contributing 80 percent to this increase.

Further, HDVs are substantially attributed to environmental pollution, accounting for over 40 percent of on-road nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, over 60 percent of on-road particulate matter (PM 2.5), and more than 20 percent of black carbon emissions, as revealed in the latest report by the

The report was jointly launched by the UNEP and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), and in attendance at the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA).

First of its kind, this report is a product of an analysis of 146 countries importing the used HDVs, and Rob de Jong, head of UNEP’s Sustainable Mobility Unit, revealing that the European Commission has termed it unacceptable the EU is the biggest exporter of pollutant locomotives, and made certain radical proposals.

He revealed further that the Commission has proposed to member countries to stop further export of used HDVs, and further suggested to recipient countries to increase excise duty on poor quality HDVs, and lower the duty on good quality vehicles.

“Trucks and buses contribute to economic growth just about anywhere in the world, but ambitious regulations are needed to curb their emissions causing major environmental and health impacts,” he said, suggesting further that introduction of cleaner bus technologies can be a major driver for the global revolution to low and, ultimately, zero emissions transport.

 Heavy Duty Vehicles and the Environment - A Global Overview of Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation report, provides a first global overview by the UN of the scale and regulation of used HDVs and their contribution to global air pollution, road accidents, fuel consumption and climate emissions.

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