Report calls for implementation of heavy-duty vehicle standards

Traffic snarlup along Globe Roundabout near Ngara, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A new report on heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) has called for countries to not only adopt but also implement the Euro 4 standards to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Vehicles above 3.5 tons are categorised as HDVs and these include different types of trucks and buses and contribute over 50 percent of emissions.

To pass Euro 4 standards, petrol cars had to produce CO2 of no more than 1.0g/km, total hydrocarbon (THC) emissions of no more than 0.10g/km and NOx emissions of 0.08g/km.

The report; ‘Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles and the Environment: A Global Overview of Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation’ analysed the flow and scale of used HDVs from three major used HDV exporters of Japan, the European Union (EU) and Republic of Korea (ROK).

It also reviewed the regulatory environment for used HDV import in 146 countries, 122 of which are low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The report is the first attempt to quantify and qualify used heavy-duty vehicles globally.

Its findings, it said, are, however, based on limited data sets. At the time of the study, data on the export of used HDVs from the US was not available due to the inclusion of both new and used HDVs in the export data.

In addition, even though China is a major manufacturer of HDVs, its global export share is low and only recently (2019) started to export used HDVs.

According to its findings, the global sale of new and used HDVs doubled between 2000 and 2015, with CO2 emissions increasing by about one-third in the same period.

The year 2018 saw the peak of the export of both new and used HDVs. However, 2019 and 2020 saw a decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2015, 6.3 million new and used HDVs were sold globally, among which, 3.4 million units were newly manufactured, making used HDVs account for nearly half of the total sales.

The major exporters of new and used HDVs are Japan, the EU, ROK, Mexico, the US and China.

A significant share of used HDVs (60 per cent) is traded in high-income or upper-middle-income countries.

"One-third of the total global used HDVs is absorbed within the EU, 20 per cent is exported to Africa with export growing at 10 per cent every year while LDV goes down by 3 per cent at the same time, another 20 per cent to Asia-Pacific and the rest is exported to the other regions," said Rob de Jong, Head of Sustainable Mobility Unit, United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) during the report release at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi on Thursday.

According to the report, many low- and middle-income countries that are mostly in Africa, rely on the import of used buses and trucks to contribute to economic growth just about anywhere in the world without caring about its environmental effects.

“This is because they are cheap, not knowing the environmental and economic effect they have on their businesses and country’s economy and environment,” he said.

Even though HDVs are significantly fewer in number compared to light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in countries across the world, the report says they are a major contributor to; air pollution, road accidents, high fuel consumption, climate emissions (black carbon, CO2, among)

Adopting Euro 4 standards for HDV worldwide and cleaner fuels could prevent 300-700,000 deaths by 2030.

Vehicles above 3.5 tons are categorized as heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) and these include different types of trucks and buses.

While used HDVs are generally more polluting than used LDVs, regulations on used HDVs are usually less strict than those for used LDVs.

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.

Only two countries, Sierra Leone and Suriname, have included used vehicles imported in their national strategic climate plans, for example nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Used HDV regulations can take many forms from age restrictions to fiscal instruments or complete bans.

Kenya currently allows the imports of used cars of up to eight years, 15 years in Uganda and 10 years in Tanzania. Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan have no age limits for used cars.