The top German court has just released a verdict that will allow cities and towns to ban the use of diesel-fueled vehicles.
In an effort to promote cleaner air and to abide by European Union regulations on emissions, Germany’s Federal Administrative Court has ruled that towns and cities within Germany may ban the use of diesel-powered vehicles within city limits. The ruling has vast implications for Germany’s automotive industry as well as the automotive industry of the world.
Germany is a country that loves its cars. In a nation where 800,000 people are employed by the automotive industry, it seems natural that any court ruling banning the use or sale of a certain type of car would be extremely unpopular. However, Germany is also a country that is struggling with urban smog as well as abiding by European Union pollution regulations.
Diesel cars emit nitrogen dioxide, a gas that overwhelming contributes to smog and also 75,000 early deaths annually in Germany, according to the European Environment Agency.
German citizens also remember well the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that rocked the country back in 2015 when the company admitted to cheating on emissions tests to make their diesel-powered cars seem to pollute less than they actually do.
The case was brought before the courts by the activist group Environmental Action Germany, which sued Stuttgart and Düsseldorf in order to force the cities to ban diesel cars and meet EU pollution limits. The cities lost in a lower court ruling and appealed to Germany’s highest court, where once again the verdict was in favor of the diesel ban.
“The flooding of cities with poisonous diesel exhausts is over,” said Jürgen Resch, head of Environmental Action Germany, following the verdict. “These cars don’t belong in our cities anymore.”
The verdict now clears the way for other cities to institute their own diesel bans or else face legal challenges. It also brings environmental issues to the forefront of German politics as now the automotive industry faces heavy pressure to cut emissions to meet EU guidelines.
It also is cause for grave concern among German diesel owners who believe the verdict will cause the value of their cars to plummet.