UNEP says unregulated trade in used heavy-duty vehicles threatens environment

  • World
  • Friday, 23 Feb 2024

NAIROBI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- A surge in the import and export of heavy-duty vehicles, including buses and trucks, has escalated air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and road accidents, undermining the global quest for green mobility, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a report released on Thursday.

The report titled "Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles and the Environment: A Global Overview of Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation" was launched on the sidelines of the UNEP-convened Climate and Clean Air Conference underway in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Released ahead of the sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) slated from Feb. 26 to March 1, the report said obsolete heavy-duty vehicles pose an existential threat to human and ecological health.

Global sales of new and used heavy-duty vehicles doubled from 2000 to 2015, and carbon dioxide emissions increased by about one-third over the same period, according to the report.

It added that in 2015, 6.3 million new and used heavy-duty vehicles were sold worldwide, 3.4 million units were newly manufactured, while the remaining 2.9 million units were past their useful life and hazardous to the environment.

While 60 percent of used heavy-duty vehicles were traded in high- and middle-income countries, 20 percent were exported to Africa and another 20 percent to the Asia-Pacific region, said the report. "Many low- and middle-income countries rely on imports of used buses and trucks."

"Even though heavy-duty vehicles are significantly fewer in number compared to light-duty vehicles, they are a major contributor to air pollution, road accidents, high fuel consumption, and climate emissions," the report said.

Rob de Jong, head of UNEP's Sustainable Mobility Unit, acknowledged that heavy-duty vehicles are a major cog in global economic progress, but that stringent regulations are required to ensure that they pose a minimal threat to the environment.

According to de Jong, the introduction of cleaner bus technologies could accelerate the transition to low-carbon mobility that benefits ecosystems and communities.

Both importing and exporting countries have an obligation to enforce minimum standards for used heavy-duty vehicles and to minimize their negative impact on the environment, the report said.

The report also called for harmonizing quality benchmarks for used heavy-duty vehicles, increasing the use of electric buses and trucks, and using data and research to ensure that green mobility becomes mainstream.

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