Heavy-Duty Vehicles Impacts: A Call for Global Cooperation and Regulation

Heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) represent a substantial sector within the global automotive trade, constituting up to 3.6% of its total value. This sector has witnessed an 80% increase in CO2 emissions, which have surged by over 30% since 2000.

According to the Used Heavy Duty Vehicles and the Environment – A Global Overview of Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles: Flow, Scale and Regulation report, HDVs account for over 40% of on-road nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, over 60% of on-road particulate matter (PM 2.5) emissions, and more than 20% of black carbon emissions.

A joint initiative by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has provided a comprehensive analysis of the scale and regulation of used HDVs and their impact on global air pollution, road safety, fuel consumption, and climate emissions. The report not only presents these findings transparently but also offers recommendations to mitigate the adverse effects of used HDVs on public health and the climate.

Rob de Jong, head of UNEP’s Sustainable Mobility Unit, underscores the economic significance of trucks and buses globally while emphasizing the imperative for ambitious regulations to mitigate their emissions, which pose significant environmental and health risks. “The adoption of cleaner bus technologies can catalyze the global transition toward low and ultimately zero emissions transport,” remarked Rob.

The study forecasts a substantial and sustained growth of HDVs, driven by escalating economic activities and the escalating demand for transportation of people and goods. This trend is particularly pronounced in many developing countries, where the importation of used heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) serves as a cost-effective solution to meet increasing mobility needs.

However, urgent action is warranted to address their adverse impacts, characterized by safety hazards, pollution, and harm. Effective regulation and enforcement are essential to ensure the quality of imported used HDVs meets acceptable standards, which currently may be lacking or insufficient.

The report stresses the shared responsibility of both importing and exporting nations to ensure the deployment of cleaner and safer used vehicles on the roads of developing countries.

It underscores the necessity for regional collaboration to establish and enforce minimum standards, including emission regulations and vehicle age limits, while advocating for heightened public awareness and increased research efforts to yield environmental and road safety benefits.

For instance, by embracing Euro VI equivalent vehicle emission standards and adopting cleaner fuels, it is estimated that up to 700 thousand premature deaths could be averted by 2030.

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