Cam­paign to curb EU im­ports of older cars

Wealthy EU coun­tries ac­cused of un­load­ing high-emis­sion ve­hi­cles on to poorer states

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS - By Kyr­i­a­cos Kil­iaris

Cyprus is sup­port­ing a cam­paign by sev­eral fel­low EU states that claim richer mem­bers are dump­ing their older high-emis­sion ve­hi­cles on poorer coun­tries.

Bul­garia, Slove­nia and Poland have taken an ini­tia­tive to per­suade Brus­sels to take re­stric­tive mea­sures re­gard­ing ex­ports of cars from one EU coun­try to an­other.

The Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Agri­cul­ture has de­clared its sup­port for the cause, ac­knowl­edg­ing that the im­port of used cars with en­gines that emit high amounts of CO2 is tak­ing its toll on Cyprus’ ef­forts to meet its tar­gets re­gard­ing the re­duc­tion of CO2 emis­sions by 2020 and 2030.

The min­istry de­clared its back­ing for the cam­paign in an EU En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ters’ meet­ing held in Lux­em­burg via min­istry of­fi­cial Olympia Stylianou.

Fol­low­ing Cyprus sup­port for the ini­tia­tive, Lux­em­burg, Hun­gary, Ro­ma­nia, Lithua­nia and Latvia also de­clared their en­dorse­ment for the cam­paign which seeks to have the matter dis­cussed at an EU Par­lia­ment level and be re­ex­am­ined by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture sources, coun­tries such as Cyprus are hav­ing a hard time as it is meet­ing their 2020, which in­clude the re­duc­tion of CO2 emis­sions in trans­port, and they per­ceive the im­port of petrol-thirsty cars as an­other ob­sta­cle.

“Fail­ure to com­ply to the EU di­rec­tives will re­sult in penal­ties which will be passed on to the pub­lic through taxes,” ex­plained the source.

Cyprus is af­fected by the im­port of prob­lem­atic sec­ond­hand ve­hi­cles, in par­tic­u­lar with diesel-pow­ered en­gines, which are im­pos­ing fur­ther ob­sta­cles to the coun­try’s ef­forts to meet its 2020 tar­gets.

“The same ap­plies to the other seven coun­tries that call for re­stric­tive mea­sures in the con­text of free trade set by the EU, stress­ing that the frame­work in force ef­fec­tively helps to re­lieve coun­tries such as Ger­many, Bel­gium and Italy (with left-hand drive ve­hi­cles) and Bri­tain (with right-hand drive ve­hi­cles) from high emis­sion ve­hi­cles,” said the source.

“These coun­tries are sell­ing their old ve­hi­cles by bring­ing them to coun­tries where, due to low in­come of cit­i­zens, they find a large mar­ket of older used ve­hi­cles,” the source added.

He said that the prob­lem is ex­pected to worsen with a ban on the move­ment of such ve­hi­cles in Europe’s cities and towns, whereby used diesel ve­hi­cles will be with­drawn and ex­ported to other EU coun­tries even more cheaply.

Mean­while, car im­porters have also ex­pressed con­cerns over im­ports with high CO2 emis­sions from other EU coun­tries and be­lieve Cyprus is rightly sup­port­ing the cam­paign.

Treasurer of the Motor Ve­hi­cles Im­porters As­so­ci­a­tion, Dick­ran Ou­zou­nian told the Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror, there is a huge in­crease in the num­ber of used cars ex­ported from Ger­many to the rest of the Euro­pean Union.

“In Cyprus, we have wit­nessed im­ported sec­ond-hand cars in­crease rapidly over the last few years. Used cars now amount to 75% of all sales of cars, with half of them com­ing from Ja­pan and the other half from the United King­dom,” said Ou­zou­nian.

He said that cars im­ported from the UK are usu­ally lux­ury cars which are over five years old and run on diesel. “The UK is work­ing on phas­ing out the use of diesel cars and it is ex­pected that soon diesel en­gine cars will not be al­lowed in ma­jor cities such as Lon­don,” said Ou­zou­nian.

He ex­plained that this be­ing the case, a lot of un­cer­tainty is be­ing gen­er­ated around whether mo­torists in Bri­tain will be able to drive around in their diesel cars.

“As a re­sult, there is a drop in de­mand for these cars and cit­i­zens can­not sell them within the UK, so they seek to sell them to buy­ers from abroad. And as these cars are right-hand drive, Cyprus is the per­fect mar­ket,” said Ou­zou­nian.

He ar­gues that these cars are not only prob­lem­atic be­cause they have a sig­nif­i­cant mileage on them, but they also pose a risk for the en­vi­ron­ment and pub­lic health.

“Diesel cars have what is called a Diesel Par­tic­u­lar Fil­ter which fil­ters emis­sions from these en­gines. In most cars im­ported, this fil­ter has been worn down and needs to be re­placed. This means that a diesel car work­ing with­out a proper fil­ter in place, emits dan­ger­ous pol­lu­tants 80 to 100 times more,” he said.

Ou­zou­nian ex­plained that diesel en­gines do not only emit CO2, but also par­tic­u­lar mat­ters and ni­tro­gen diox­ide (NOx) par­ti­cles. NOx is an ir­ri­tant gas, which at high con­cen­tra­tions causes in­flam­ma­tion of the air­ways of the res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem.

When ni­tro­gen is re­leased dur­ing fuel com­bus­tion it com­bines with oxy­gen atoms to cre­ate ni­tric ox­ide (NO). This fur­ther com­bines with oxy­gen to cre­ate ni­tro­gen diox­ide (NO2). Ni­tric ox­ide is not con­sid­ered to be haz­ardous to health at typ­i­cal am­bi­ent con­cen­tra­tions, but ni­tro­gen diox­ide can be. Ni­tro­gen diox­ide and ni­tric ox­ide are re­ferred to to­gether as ox­ides of ni­tro­gen (NOx).

NOx gases re­act to form smog and acid rain as well as be­ing cen­tral to the for­ma­tion of fine par­ti­cles (PM) and ground-level ozone, both of which are as­so­ci­ated with ad­verse health ef­fects.

Chang­ing the fil­ter is a con­sumer obli­ga­tion, with many con­sumers opt­ing to run their cars with­out the fil­ter, due to the high cost. Ou­zou­nian stressed that the state should take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity to check these cars, both when they are im­ported and dur­ing the bian­nual MOT eval­u­a­tion.

“As an as­so­ci­a­tion, we are work­ing closely with the gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce new mea­sures which will re­duce the coun­try’s emis­sions in trans­port. How­ever, you can­not achieve this with a re­stric­tion on free trade. We need to find ways to get con­sumers to con­sider the ef­fect their car will have on the en­vi­ron­ment and pub­lic health be­fore pur­chas­ing,” said Ou­zou­nian.

A com­bi­na­tion of in­creased fees for pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles, along with sig­nif­i­cant in­cen­tives to pur­chase cars which are friend­lier to the en­vi­ron­ment, as the lat­est gen­er­a­tion en­gines emit far fewer pol­lu­tants.

“This can be done through road tax charges, which is the di­rec­tion the gov­ern­ment is look­ing to­wards for a grad­ual re­duc­tion in trans­port pol­lu­tants.”

How­ever, as Ou­zou­nian said, the way road tax is cal­cu­lated to­day is prob­lem­atic and is ac­tu­ally achiev­ing the op­po­site re­sults from those de­sired. “Road tax is cal­cu­lated tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion how much CO2 is emit­ted by a car”. He said that that there are se­ri­ous gaps in the leg­is­la­tion re­gard­ing road tax cal­cu­la­tion as older cars’ road tax is cal­cu­lated with a method in­tro­duced 30 years ago.

The old lab test – called the New Euro­pean Driv­ing Cy­cle (NEDC) – was de­signed in the 1980s. Due to evo­lu­tions in tech­nol­ogy and driv­ing con­di­tions, it be­came outdated. The Euro­pean Union has there­fore de­vel­oped a new test, called the World­wide Har­monised Light Ve­hi­cle Test Pro­ce­dure (WLTP) in­tro­duced in 2015.

“The new pro­ce­dure is more thor­ough than the old method, and as a re­sult, newer cars ap­pear to emit more CO2. That means that own­ers of newer cars will be called to pay more, paving the way for peo­ple to buy older used cars with higher emis­sions in prac­tice,” said Ou­zou­nian.

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