Where do our old cars go

Where do our old cars go

Car emissions continue to rise every year. In 2000, global carbon emissions from road passenger vehicles were 2.5 gigatonnes. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, they increased to 3.6 gigatonnes. The reason? Consumers continue to buy gasoline-powered cars. Around 15 million new vehicles were sold in the United States in 2021, an increase of 2.5 per cent from the unusually low share in 2020. In the United Kingdom, 1.65 million new vehicles left dealerships last year . The good news is that some people are replacing their fossil fuel vehicles with cleaner alternatives. Almost half a million Americans bought a full-electric vehicle last year, while nearly 750,000 were sold in the UK. Electric vehicles accounted for 8.3 percent of overall new light vehicle sales globally last year. Replacing an old gasoline-powered car with an electric one, however, may not be enough, especially since older cars don't disappear from circulation.

The migration of old gasoline cars While some old internal combustion engine vehicles end up in wreckers who dismantle them safely, in many cases things are different. An old gasoline car has a good chance of ending up on a cargo ship and moving further down the value chain. "The destination of second-hand cars depends on where you are in the world," says Sheila Watson, deputy director for environment and research at the Fia Foundation, a non-profit organization that deals with air quality. . Old Western European vehicles are usually shipped to Eastern Europe. When they reach the end of their useful life but are still fit for circulation, they move south to Africa instead. Cars discarded from North America are transported to the developing countries of South America; vehicles from Asia are shipped across the continent until they stop being liked by that country's consumers, and then head to Africa.

Between 2015 and 2020, around the world they are 10.2 million electric vehicles were purchased. But in the same period, 23 million second-hand light vehicles (cars, vans, SUVs and pick-ups) were exported. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), two thirds were sent to developing countries. And once they get to the other side of the world, they continue to pollute.

WiredLeaks, how to send us an anonymous report It's an old principle: out of sight, out of mind. But the planet doesn't work like this: "The whole world has to get a move on, somehow," says Watson. In London, the most polluting vehicles today are no longer able to drive on most of the city's streets. In Amsterdam, successive municipalities have moved cars away from the city center over the years, making the heart of the Dutch capital a paradise for bicycles and pedestrians. Oslo plans to ban all fossil fuel vehicles by 2026. However, these polluting vehicles pop up into a new city just as quickly as they disappear from the previous one.

In the global north, moreover, the shift to policies that promote cleaner air is unevenly distributed. For every Oslo or London, there are other cities in Europe and North America building new roads and filling them with polluting vehicles. According to Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Duisburg, Germany, the fixation on exporting third- or fourth-hand vehicles to developing countries could be a distraction from the root cause of vehicle pollution - ninety per cent. 100% of the world's cars are sold in Canada, China, Europe and the United States.

Responsibility to be shared But with the increase in sales of electric vehicles in richer countries, there is a risk that a number even more self-polluting ends up in developing countries. Globally, one in four used light commercial vehicles already ends up in Africa: between 2015 and 2020, the continent imported a total of about 5.5 million used vehicles. "There are a lot of really cheap cars," explains Dudenhöffer, and many go through three or four owners in their lifetime. Of the 146 developing countries surveyed by UNEP in 2020, only 18 had banned the import of used vehicles. Only 47 countries had policies that the organization defined as "positive" or "very positive" regarding the import of used light commercial vehicles. Since then the situation has improved: the November 2021 update of the UNEP found that 62 countries had adopted positive or very positive policies. The step forward is partly due to legislative changes: in January 2021, fifteen countries of the Economic Community of West African States introduced a directive requiring all imported vehicles to meet the equivalent of Euro IV emission standards, thus limiting the pollution rate of vehicles sold after 2005 and banning the entry of vehicles older than ten years.

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Arrow This age limit is important. Many of the cars that circulate on African roads would be difficult to sell outside the continent. "These vehicles can be quite old - explains Rob de Jong, head of the mobility unit at Unep -. We have found that the average age of these vehicles can be 16, 17 or 18 years before they start their life in the countries. Africans ". In theory, these vehicles are not subject to the United States anti-pollution regulations introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in the last decade, nor to the environmental regulations passed by the European Union in the early 2000s, which reduce drastically the amount of pollutants emitted from exhaust pipes.

In addition to moving a source of pollution elsewhere globally, the trade in used vehicles exacerbates air quality problems in developing countries. "If you take all the dirty cars off your streets and sell them to the poorest countries, you are, in fact, moving the problem of air quality overseas," says Watson. "Your air quality will become better, theirs. it will get worse ". In London, for example, the percentage of people living in areas with abnormal air pollution levels has dropped by ninety-four percent since 2016. Over the past decade, air quality in cities like Kampala, the capital of Uganda, has instead gone in the opposite direction.

Pointing the finger at countries that accept imports of obsolete vehicles means identifying only part of the problem: first, the cars have to get to their destination. "It's a shared responsibility between importers and exporters," says de Jong. The solution to this problem will require some major changes in the way the automotive industry works.

Possible solutions One solution could be to lower the price of new electric vehicles, so that more people can afford them. It is a model that has already been successful in some countries: Norway has managed to increase the adoption of electric vehicles thanks to generous tax breaks. Another solution would be to ensure that used electric vehicles arrive faster in developing countries. According to De Jong, developed countries could implement policies that prevent the export of vehicles older than eight years: "This would cause developing countries to electrify themselves automatically eight years after developed countries." Such a development would be welcome, says Watson, but he fears that people in developing countries do not have access to affordable cars.

Reduction in car imports in developing countries could but also have unexpected negative effects: Dudenhöffer points out that every vehicle, of any kind, imported from a developing country represents a boost for the GDP of the country in question, thus increasing the chances that in the future more people will be able to afford. newer and less polluting cars. "Even if it is not ideal, in the overall balance it does not really matter that one car ends up in Africa rather than another - he explains -. It is very important to have electric vehicles or zero-emission cars in the regions [non-African, ed. ] ". And this means that China, Europe and North America must quickly slow down the production of new gasoline cars. "If the whole world does not reduce the emissions of the global vehicle fleet, we will have a climate problem - underlines de Jong -. As we speak, every day, every year, the emissions of the global vehicle fleet continue to increase. If we do not act globally, we will fail to meet the climate goals we have set for ourselves. "

This article originally appeared on sportsgaming.win UK.

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