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UNEP unveils report on heavy-duty vehicles, environment

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) have launched a new report on used Heavy- Duty Vehicles and the environment.

The report analyses the flow and scale of used Heavy- Duty Vehicles (HDVs) from three major used HDV exporters, who are the European Union, and the Republic of Korea and Japan.

The report also reviews the regulatory environment for used HDV imports in 146 countries, 122 of which are low- and middle-income countries.

Rob de Jong, Head of Sustainable Mobility Unit, UNEP, speaking during the launch at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, said the release of this report is the first attempt to qualify and quantify used heavy-duty vehicles globally, a major step towards making progress in tackling super pollutants in communities around the world.

He said that heavy-duty vehicles and engines are a major source of exhaust emissions globally, accounting for 44 per cent of on-road nitrogen oxide emissions and 63 per cent of on-road particulate matter (PM 2.5).

“Prioritising used HDV standards in global, regional, and national strategies is critical for combating air pollution, enhancing road safety, and addressing climate change,” he said, adding that heavy-duty vehicles are a major source of black carbon emissions, a short-lived climate pollutant.

He noted that some of the key findings in the report were that the global sale of new and used HDVs doubled between 2000 and 2015, with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increasing by about one-third in the same period.

“The adoption of Euro VI equivalent vehicle emission standards, coupled with the introduction of low-carbon medium and HDVs and with the shift towards electric modes, will support climate change mitigation,” he said.

Statistics from the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) reveal that the total number of HDVs manufactured globally increased at an annual rate of 0.6 per cent over the last decade, from 4.3 million units in 2011 to 4.6 million units in 2020.

Emmanuel Imaniranzi, Director of Transport Policy and Planning, Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA), Rwanda, said the Authority, together with UNEP and CCAC, is coming up with an operationalization of the emission notification method to be able to monitor, track, and record on a yearly basis the activities on the corridor.

“The Northern Corridor is the busiest corridor in East and Central Africa, with approximately coverage of daily truck traffic ranging between 2000 and 3000 and a fleet size of approximately 12,500 trucks,” he said.

He noted that with such huge truck activity, the Authority has formulated a programme focusing on fuel efficiency, and reducing carbon emissions and other pollutant particles.

“We will train 1000 truck drivers who use the Northern Corridor to equip them with appropriate skills in a bid to reduce fuel emissions like carbon dioxide by approximately 10 per cent as compared to the 2024 baseline,” he said, adding that they will also enforce measures and regulations like regulating imports of old, inefficient trucks.

Speaking during the launch, Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of the Industry and Economy Division, UNEP, said a shared responsibility between both exporting and importing countries on used heavy-duty vehicles would help secure a stable climate, a healthy nature, and a pollution-free world.

“How countries set up regulations and implement them can have a developing country context, a situation where you have cleaner vehicles that are operating on our roads, until we have a transition in the foreseen future towards electric mobility,” she said.

On her part, Martina Otto, Head of Secretariat, UNEP-convened CCAC, said the release of the used HDVs report and its analysis will encourage other countries to take up the right policies and standards restrictions.

“HDV standards (used and new) are often not prioritised in global, regional, and national strategies for air pollution control, climate mitigation, and improved road safety,” she said, noting that regulations can take many forms, from age restrictions to fiscal instruments or complete bans.

Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental health risks of our time, with 99 per cent of the global population breathing air that exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines around pollutant levels.

Prolonged exposure to air pollution can cause pneumonia, heart and lung diseases, cancer, and more, and it is associated with 6.7 million premature deaths per year.

The report was released during the Climate and Clean Air Conference 2024 at UNEP Headquarters. The conference thematic area focuses on reducing the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution by mitigating short-lived climate pollutants.

By Anita Omwenga

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