Federal court to announce next week whether Stuttgart and Düsseldorf can use vehicle bans to try to improve air quality
Thu 22 Feb 2018 05.00 GMT
One of Germany’s top courts will rule next week on whether heavily polluting vehicles can be banned from the urban centres of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, a landmark ruling which could cause traffic chaos and dramatically hit the value of diesel cars on the country’s roads.
Some 70 German cities have over the last year suffered from annual levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions above EU thresholds, with officials holding diesel cars responsible for 72.5% of the harmful levels of pollution.
The environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) earlier this year sued nine German cities because it wants to allow municipalities to enforce clean air regulations by banning diesel cars from city centres.
The federal administrative court in Leipzig was expected to announce on Thursday whether Stuttgart and Düsseldorf are allowed to use vehicle bans to try to improve air quality. But Judge Andreas Korbmacher delayed the decision, and said the country’s highest federal administrative court would now rule on 27 February.
Local courts ordered them to bar diesel cars which did not conform to the latest standards on days when pollution is heavy, startling German carmakers because an outright ban could trigger a fall in vehicle resale prices, and a rise in the cost of leasing contracts, which are priced on assumed residual values.
The German states concerned, where the carmakers and their suppliers have a strong influence, appealed against the decisions.
Diesel emissions, which contain particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx) known to cause respiratory disease, have come under closer scrutiny in the wake of Volkswagen’s 2015 admission that it cheated diesel exhaust tests.
Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens have said they plan to ban diesel vehicles from city centres by 2025, while the mayor of Copenhagen wants to ban diesel cars from entering the city as soon as next year. France and Britain will ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in a shift to electric vehicles.