The export of our old diesel vehicles causes bad air in Africa. But there they no longer want our rust buckets and are increasingly turning to low-emission new cars.
Europe's end-of-life cars are often exported abroad, formerly to Eastern Europe, now to Africa. According to a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), more than 11 million vehicles were exported to low-income countries, mainly in Africa, between 2015 and 2018. There, they pollute the air and make traffic less safe, as they not only have a poor EURO standard, but in most cases also no longer have a TÜV seal. So while we in this country try to make our everyday life more climate friendly, pay attention to our emissions and buy more electric cars, the problem is clearly simply being shifted to another part of the world.
But the cars are finding fewer and fewer buyers, because awareness of health and the environment is also growing in Africa. An initiative launched by the UN sets minimum standards for imported used cars. In Ghana, for instance, only fuels with a low sulphur content are used, and there is a ten-year age limit for imported used cars. In some North African countries, such as Morocco, there are already stricter regulations regarding the age limit of imported vehicles and also regarding the EURO standard. More and more countries in the region are likely to follow these pioneers in the future. The new awareness could even lead to the first African countries introducing low emission zones in their major cities to make the purchase of old cars even less attractive. The car industry also has a great interest in this, as the African sales market for new cars amounts to about 5 million new cars per year.
So what happens to our unwanted diesel cars instead? Since selling the cars will be much less lucrative in the future, the vehicles will probably simply stay on our roads longer or be sold for little money within Europe. But since most of the vehicles will no longer be allowed to enter the low emission zones, they will probably mostly provide bad air outside the cities. In the long run, this could lead to the extension of low emission zones in suburban and rural areas.
So will there be more low emission zones and driving bans in the future?