Climate Action

German cities can now ban diesel cars to combat air pollution

A German court has ruled that cities in the country have the legal right to ban the use of diesel cars under certain conditions.

  • 27 February 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

A German court has ruled that cities in the country have the legal right to ban the use of diesel cars under certain conditions.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig gave its judgement today on a long running case brought by environmental campaigners. The groups involved claimed that local authorities and states were obliged to do more to protect people’s health from toxic air pollution.

Previous rulings in lower courts had also come down in favour of the environmentalists’ arguments, according to the AP news agency.

While the result will be seen as a major victory for public health, questions remain over how the ruling is to be enforced. It could impact millions of drivers in the country; certain cars may be required to be left at home on days of particularly high pollution levels.

The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, one of the oldest environmental associations in Germany, said the automobile industry had “played badly”, and that they had responded to concerns with only “half-hearted software updates” to the dirtiest cars.

“Affected cities must now be made the trailblazers of a transportation U-turn as soon as possible to strike a balance between mobility needs and environmental and health protection”, the union said in a statement, reported by the AP.

While precise details of the ruling are still be released, campaigners were jubilant. The car industry, which carries significant political weight in the country, has yet to respond.

Niklas Schinerl, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace Germany said: “This ruling is a victory for clean air, and shows what’s possible when public health is the priority.

“Across Europe, decisions like these are making it clear that diesel cars are on the way out. It makes no sense to invest in a new diesel now, because it’s only a matter of time before even the newest diesels are either banned or priced out of cities.

“Instead, dirty diesel cars will be replaced by cleaner, greener electric cars, improved cycling infrastructure and sustainable transport that’s good for health and the environment”, he added.

 

Photo: Polybert49/CC