Europe's plan to phase out combustion- engine vehicles has put the region at the forefront of climate protection. Yet without progress cleaning up poorer nations' roads, it won't be enough to keep global warming below dangerous levels.
Take Nairobi, for example. The Kenyan capital's vehicle fleet doubles every eight years, and its roughly 4.5 million inhabitants rely on minibus taxis called matatus to get around. While they're cheap, they tend to be older and often run on dirty diesel.
While virtually all of the world's population growth by 2050 is forecast to take place in developing countries, thousands of cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America may stick to fossil fuel- powered vans, buses and motorcycles for decades, said Rob de Jong, who heads the mobility unit at the United Nations' environment program. In Kenya, carbon dioxide emissions have roughly doubled since 2005, with the transport sector responsible for much of the increase.
"If we only bring electric vehicles to the U.S. and Finland and the Netherlands, we will not meet the Paris climate agreement targets," de Jong said in a phone interview. "We need low- and no-emission vehicles also to be introduced in low- and middle-income countries."