UNEP report reveals increase in CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

UNEP report reveals increase in CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

A recent report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has revealed a concerning 30 per cent increase in CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) since 2000, with trucks being responsible for 80 per cent of this rise. Additionally, HDVs contribute over 40 per cent of on-road nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, more than 60 per cent of on-road particulate matter (PM 2.5), and over 20 per cent of black carbon emissions.

The report, titled “Used Heavy Duty Vehicles and the Environment – A Global Overview of Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation,” was jointly launched by UNEP and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in Nairobi, Kenya. This report offers the first global assessment by the UN of the scale and regulation of used HDVs and their impact on global air pollution, road safety, fuel consumption, and climate emissions.

Despite representing only 3.6 per cent of the total value of the global automotive trade, HDV exports are projected to continue growing significantly due to increasing economic activities and the growing demand for transportation of people and goods.

Many developing nations rely on the importation of secondhand heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) to expand their vehicle fleets. However, the report reveals that regulations and enforcement regarding the quality of imported used HDVs are often lacking or nonexistent. This exacerbates their impact, particularly when dealing with old, polluting, and unsafe used HDVs.

Currently, no country has established minimum requirements for exporting used HDVs. Regulations in more than half of the countries importing used HDVs are categorized as either ‘weak’ or ‘very weak,’ with inadequate enforcement.

The report underscores the joint responsibility of both importing and exporting nations to ensure the presence of cleaner and safer used vehicles on the roads of developing countries. It highlights the necessity for regional collaboration to establish and enforce minimum standards, such as emission regulations and age limits, while also advocating for increased public awareness and further research to reap environmental and road safety benefits.

For instance, adopting Euro VI equivalent vehicle emission standards and cleaner fuels could prevent up to 700 thousand premature deaths by 2030. Enhanced regulations on used HDVs could also facilitate a technological leapfrog, promoting greater adoption of advanced technologies like electric buses and trucks in developing nations.

The report marks the initial endeavor to quantify and characterize used heavy-duty vehicle flows, drawing on export data from Japan, the European Union, and the Republic of Korea, which collectively represent approximately 60 per cent of the total new and used HDVs export market.

UNEP leads efforts to promote environmental stewardship and foster partnerships aimed at improving the well-being of present and future generations without compromising the health of the planet. This report serves as a call to action for both importing and exporting nations to prioritize and enforce regulations that mitigate the environmental and health impacts of heavy-duty vehicle emissions.