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Reproduced from UN Environment Programme; Map: Axios Visuals

A big new UN report delves deeply into an under-the-radar problem: the long-lasting carbon emissions and pollution from used cars shipped from wealthy nations to poorer ones.

The big picture: The UN Environment Programme report finds that between 2015 and 2018, the U.S., EU and Japan together exported 14 million used light-duty vehicles, with 70% going to developing nations. Africa is the largest export destination.

Threat level: The analysis finds that most importing countries have limited or absent environment and safety regulations governing used vehicle imports, while few developed nations have export restrictions.

  • The report analyzed nations' import policies and created a ranking system based on factors like emissions standards and vehicle age limits.
  • "Out of the 146 countries surveyed, 81 countries, over half, have ‘weak’ or ‘very weak’ policies to regulate the import of used vehicles," it finds.

Why it matters: Transportation overall (not just cars but also heavy trucks, planes and so forth) is a major emissions source, creating almost a fourth of energy-related CO2 output and roughly 15% of all global greenhouse gases.

And the report notes that the global fleet of light-duty vehicles is projected to at least double by 2050, with almost all the growth coming from non-OECD countries that import lots of used cars, vans, minibuses and so forth.

What they're saying: “Developed countries must stop exporting vehicles that fail environment and safety inspections and are no longer considered roadworthy in their own countries, while importing countries should introduce stronger quality standards," said UNEP head Inger Andersen.

What's next: The report recommends steps including harmonized global and regional regulations and standards, as well as more research.

It also says steps like age limits and fiscal policies like age- or CO2-based taxation can be effective.

Go deeper: Exports of Used Cars Are a Pollution Problem, U.N. Warns (New York Times)

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

General Motors puts Trump in its rearview mirror

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

General Motors (GM) is racing to prepare itself for a president and a world that takes climate change more seriously — and putting the Trump era behind them in the process.

Driving the news: GM yesterday announced an ambitious plan to end global sales of internal combustion vehicles by 2035. It's part of their wider new pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe

A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes to retire, will be CEO of Trump media org

Rep. Devin Nunes. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will retire at the end of the year and become CEO of Trump's new media organization.

Why it matters: Nunes, once considered a moderate member of the party, became one of the fiercest defenders of former President Donald Trump throughout both of Trump's impeachments and the Intel committee's Russia investigation.

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