EU car exports: dirty elsewhere

Used cars that are no longer allowed on the road in the EU are often shipped to Africa, according to a UNEP analysis

Africa is still a junkyard for decommissioned cars from the EU. Among other things, this contributes to the global climate crisis, says the UN and calls for regulation.  

In a current report, the UN environmental program UNEP denounces unregulated used car exports to developing countries. In addition to the fact that they do not meet safety requirements, a large number of the vehicles traded lack basic environmental requirements, they make a significant contribution to air pollution and climate emissions in the importing countries, according to the analysis. Most developing countries imported vehicles that were no longer allowed to drive on the roads of the exporting countries.

According to UNEP, 60 percent of the used vehicle trade in the EU takes place within the international community, the remaining 40 percent mainly consists of exports to developing countries and countries in transition, above all West Africa (e.g. Nigeria, Ghana or Guinea) as well as Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Asia ( e.g. Serbia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The EU exported just over a million used cars to Africa in 2018 alone; In total, the African countries imported 1,5 million used cars that year. Within the EU, Germany is the largest exporter of used cars to countries outside the international community; In 2016, over half (53%) of all EU exports to non-EU countries were accounted for by Germans. In second place was Great Britain, with a share of 13 percent.

According to the report, two-thirds of the 146 developing countries surveyed worldwide have weak or very weak policies for regulating used car imports. UNEP calls for regulation of the used car trade; this is essential to ensure the quality of the vehicles and to reduce local air pollution and global climate emissions. The UN environmental program also suggests rules for the exporting countries, after all, exporting and importing countries have a shared responsibility to minimize the negative effects of used cars.



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