14 Feb 2019, 14:15
Sören Amelang

EU concessions mean some German cities may avoid diesel bans

Tagesspiegel Background

The European Commission has approved German government plans to impose diesel bans only in cities that significantly exceeded pollution limits, Markus Grabitz, Stefan Jacobs and Jens Tartler report for energy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. Germany is planning diesel bans only in cities where nitrogen oxide pollution exceeds an average of 50 micrograms. The EU legal limit is 40 micrograms. The authors say the concession from the commission “reduces environmental organisations’ chances of forcing driving bans in court if pollution limits are only slightly exceeded,” meaning cities like Berlin, Hanover, and Frankfurt may avoid such bans.

In a comment piece for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Michael Bauchmüller argues that the legal limit of 40 micrograms remains unchanged and cities must still act fast to abide by it. “Cities must promote alternatives to the car, and convert buses to cleaner engines,” he writes. “The law might prevent driving bans, but not bad air.”

Chancellor Merkel said last year that her party wanted to amend existing pollution legislation to prevent driving bans in cities where nitrogen oxide limits are only slightly exceeded. “We believe driving bans are not generally a proportionate response when limits are only marginally exceeded,” she said in October.

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