In a new study, New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Monday lifted the lid on the dark underbelly of a large-scale global trade of old and used vehicles from high income to low and middle income countries of Africa and South Asia
The trade is causing massive environmental dumping and toxic pollution.
The study "Clunkered: Combating Dumping of Used Vehicles -- A roadmap for Africa and South Asia" says every year out of the staggering global vehicle stock of two billion, more than 40 million vehicles approach end-of-life, becoming old and decrepit.
But instead of being scrapped within domestic markets, a large number of these are sold in low and middle income countries that do not have the capacity to manage their polluting emissions.
Africa imports old and new vehicles from nearly 17 countries, with Japan, Germany, the US and South Korea dominating the trade.
While most cars come from these countries, two-wheelers are predominantly from India and China. Cars and commercial vehicles have a higher share of the used vehicle imports.
"Cheaper price, weak environmental regulations in poorer economies, lure of a rich variety of vehicle models and stronger emissions regulations in high income exporting countries are inciting this unregulated global trade in clunkers (as these old vehicles are called)," CSE's Executive Director (Research and Advocacy) Anumita Roychowdhury said.
"In high income exporting countries it is more lucrative and cost-effective to export used vehicles than scrap them.
"If this continues unchecked, without the exporting countries sharing the responsibility of addressing this problem, the poorer countries will not be able to meet their clean air and climate mitigation goals," she said in a statement.
Many African and South Asian cities are violating the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines with some of the worst air pollution episodes.
The burden of diseases triggered by air pollution like lung diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, heart ailments and strokes are increasing rapidly.
"The global community which has, time and again, expressed its deep concern about the deteriorating air quality in the southern world, cannot look away from this problem of dumping anymore," Roychowdhury said.
Addressing the issue of a future roadmap, the CSE said that vehicle-importing countries are enforcing age restrictions, charging higher taxes on imports of older vehicles and linking import incentives with emission levels and engine sizes.
Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Sudan in Africa and Bhutan and Nepal in South Asia have completely banned the import of used vehicles.
The study says the vehicle market of South Asia is more geographically confined, which is helping the region to take quicker action.
The vehicle trade in South Asia is largely dominated by India and Japan.
Quicker upward harmonization of emission regulations is possible in this region with vehicle-producing countries advancing their standards.
Also more strident steps are being taken by importing countries.
Bhutan and Nepal have banned import of used vehicles and have imposed taxes according to the engine size; Nepal has adopted Euro-III emissions standards.
Bangladesh has restricted age to five years and has adopted Euro-II emissions standards. Pakistan has gone for an age cap of three to five years.
Sri Lanka has used stratified import taxes and an age cap of five years to successfully discourage old and polluting vehicles and diesel vehicles. It has also promoted hybrids, electric and gasoline vehicles, and banned two-stroke engines.
Vehicle-producing India, which accumulated about 20 million vehicles by 2015 that require scrapping, does not allow import of used vehicles or any vehicle that does not meet its emissions standards, the CSE said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)