In efforts to reduce air pollution, the Federal Administrative Court in Germany has issued a decision that allows cities to ban polluting diesel vehicles from their streets. For more information please see the IDTechEx report on electric car technology and forecasts.
While environmentalists were pleased and business groups protested the decision, the German government looked to reassure drivers who would not be able to drive their vehicles into German cities.
Diesel cars were first invented in Germany and remain a popular alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles, with about 12 million affected vehicles on the road. "Driving bans have a massive impact on our ownership rights, on mobility and on our profession," said Hans Peter Wollseifer, president of the association of German tradesmen. "The carmakers are to blame for the diesel problem, not us tradesmen."
"It's a great day for clean air in Germany,'' said Juergen Resch, head of the group Environmental Action Germany which had sued dozens of German cities for failing to meet legally binding emissions limits. Resch noted the Leipzig court concluded that European legislation and people's health were more important than national regulations.
Judges instructed Stuttgart and Duesseldorf to consider gradually imposing a year-round ban for older diesel models. The government would discuss with regions and municipalities how to proceed, with ministers hoping bans could be averted improving public transport and getting automakers to improve emissions systems.
"We must do everything possible to prevent the loss of personal freedom and the reduction in value of cars," Transport Minister Christian Schmidt told a news conference.
Germany's environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, said the ruling doesn't force cities to impose diesel bans and that the government hopes they can be avoided, although the public has a right to clean air, saying "automakers caused the problem and we mustn't absolve them of their responsibility.''
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