Motorists of second hand vehicles in Kenya will soon be penalised for emitting excessive exhaust fumes as the government moves to introduce a scheme to deter carbon pollution.
The National Treasury in conjunction with transport sector watchdogs will slap charges on imported vehicles that emit carbon from their tailpipes beyond a-to-be determined level.
On the other hand, buyers of environmentally-friendly cars like electric vehicles would be offered rebates.
The feebates (fee/rebates) plan will require owners of cars with carbon emissions in excess of the benchmark to pay a fee on top of the purchase price.
Those whose emissions are below the benchmark would get a rebate depending on how far the emissions fall below the set limit.
“To encourage electric mobility there will be a Green tax – in future those who pollute more will pay more under the “Polluter Pays” principle,” said Peter Odhengo, Climate Finance Policy advisor at the National Treasury.
“The government is committed to e-mobility through the Feebate Green Fund program which will help build on capacity by the introduction of tax exemption, so in future a feebate system will favour the importation and operation of electric vehicles,” he added.
In the plan, which has been on the cards for the past five years, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) will be required to establish testing centres where motorists can take their vehicles and know their emission levels.
Part of the plan is to help Kenya map and check its carbon footprint at a time when more middle class Kenyans are acquiring cars for daily commute and as a status symbol. Majority of the imported cars are pocket-friendly second hand units from Japan.
To check pollution, Kenya currently relies on the age limit policy, which only allows importation into Kenya of used cars not older than eight years from the date of manufacturing. Recent plans to reduce the age limit to five years and ensure that only cars with newer fuel-efficient technologies are shipped in flopped, amid opposition from dealers.
If successfully implemented, Kenya will be among the few African countries, including South Africa and Egypt that have working emissions policies.
Denmark has a benchmark of 150gCo2/km with a feebate rate of $320 (Sh32,000) per unit exceeded or under-emitted, while Norway has set its limit at 120gCo2/km. Most European nations are turning to clean hybrid and electric vehicles in their fight against carbon emissions.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), which is partly funding the emissions reduction plan, has recommended 158 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre (gCO2/km) for Kenya.
Kenya’s vehicles on average emit 180gCO2/km which the Unep considers too high. When the new rules come into effect, owners of vehicles that emit 180gCO2/km, will, for instance, be charged a fee for each of the 22 carbon units above the Unep’s benchmark.
Environmentalists say that a combination of cleaner fuels, advanced car emissions control through modern engine technology, and an effective inspection and maintenance programme for motor vehicles can help a country to keep its towns clean.
A vehicle moves when combustion takes place in the engine as a result of fuel combining with air to release fumes packed with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, which can cause respiratory illness when exposed to for long.
Nitrogen oxide also endangers fish and plants when it combines with water to form nitric acid.