German towns and cities plagued by car and truck pollution will soon get the legal tools they need to ban older diesel vehicles from streets where emissions are highest.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government will remove the legal uncertainty that has
made town mayors and councils hesitate to ban older
diesels from their streets, said Deputy Environment Minister
Jochen Flasbarth, adding that the ordinance will be enacted this year.
Limits on nitrogen oxide, or NOx, emissions set by the European Union are regularly breached on German roads.
“This step is necessary as a stop gap until electric cars have a significant foothold in our towns, and diesel emissions really are what carmakers say they are: cleaner,” Flasbarth said in Berlin.
Once enacted, bans can be implemented on diesel vehicles with emissions that don’t meet “EU-Norm 6, ” said Flasbarth, who sought agreement on the move in talks in the capital with state environment officials. The officials “unanimously supported” the need for action, he said. EU-Norm 6 sets an NOx emission limit of 80 milligrams per kilometer, and has been mandatory for all new diesel vehicles road-registered since 2015.
Calls to get tough on the dirtiest diesel vehicles have become louder and more persistent since Volkswagen AG was caught manipulating
its carbon pollution readings from its cars.
While all new diesel cars need to fulfill the strictest NOx limits, that leaves millions of car owners facing bans within cities — and a new question mark on the future of diesel technology that German companies dominate.
Almost half of the 3 million new vehicles sold each
year in Germany are diesels, according to the VDA industry
In the U.S., VW, BMW AG, Audi AG and Daimler AG had 92 percent of the market for new diesel cars, according the International Council on Clean Transportation.