City councils in Germany have been granted the right to legally ban diesel vehicles from their centres, following a new ruling by the country’s Federal Administrative Court.
Stuttgart and Düsseldorf were given permission by the country’s highest court to prevent older, higher-polluting models from driving into certain areas, opening the door for other cities to take action of their own to cut emissions.
Like the UK, Germany is facing a growing urban nitrogen oxide pollution problem that has been linked to the dominance of diesel cars on its roads. Last year, around 70 of the country’s cities exceed EU limits for NOx.
The German government opposes the banning of vehicles from city centres because of the impact it can have on economic productivity and lower-income drivers, who are more likely to use older vehicles.
Germany’s tough stance against diesel comes in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, which came to light in 2015 when Volkswagen was found to be using emissions test cheat software. It has been one of Europe’s most outspoken countries on the subject.
Several UK councils have also pushed for a more heavy-handed approach to emissions regulation. Oxford has proposed a combustion engine ban from its centre from 2020, while London (pictured above) recently introduced a T-Charge for the most toxic of vehicles.
This anti-diesel stance has caused sales of oil-burners to tumble, plummeting by 25% in the UK in January compared with the same month last year.
Manufacturers have begun withdrawing diesel models from their line-ups as demand shrinks, with Porsche removing its last two current diesel cars from sale earlier this year.
Although environmental activists have celebrated this change, new Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders figures show that CO2 figures are now on the up as people switch from diesel to petrol cars.
The average new car last year emitted 121g/km of CO2, up from 120.1g/km in 2016, meaning the impact the average car tailpipe has on global warming has grown for the first time in two decades.