27 Feb 2018, 00:00
Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

German top court allows cities to introduce diesel driving bans

Clean Energy Wire / Federal Administrative Court

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court has ruled that German cities are generally allowed to introduce driving bans for older diesel cars to enforce EU clean air rules as a last resort. The court upheld two decisions by local courts in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf in which judges had called upon cities to impose or consider driving bans for older diesel cars to meet EU clean air standards. The federal court set certain limits to driving bans. In the case of Stuttgart, where the court had called a ban of older diesel cars the only suitable measure to meet the standards, the federal court said the city had to introduce them step-by-step, depending on the models’ emissions norm, and include exemptions, for example for small businesses and certain resident groups. In the case of Düsseldorf, the court said that the city had to seriously look into diesel driving bans, too.

Find the press release on the court ruling in German here.

Find background in the CLEW factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A.

Note: The Clean Energy Wire will publish an article on this topic later today.

Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB)

The German government and five so-called model cities in the country have agreed on a scheme to tackle air pollution caused by vehicle exhaust fumes, the German environment ministry (BMUB) says in a press release. The proposals made by the cities Bonn, Essen, Herrenberg, Mannheim and Reutlingen include financial incentives for users of public transport services and bicycle hire systems, the BMUB says. The five cities have been chosen as they represent different levels of pollution with nitrogen oxides (NOx) and therefore could serve as showcases for improving air quality in some 70 German cities that grapple with excessive pollution levels, the ministry argues. City representatives said citizens who “verifiably” abstain from using a car could receive discounts on public transport, car sharing and bicycle hire systems. Depending on local conditions, driving bans for lorries may also be an option, the BMBU says. According to the ministry, the federal government will financially support initiatives that can be implemented in the short term “and have a measurable positive effect on air quality”.
In order to prevent being sued by the EU commission over excessive air pollution levels in inner cities, the German government in early February proposed offering public transport free of charge in the model cities. It was later accused of “backtracking” as it added that no blanket introduction of free public transport had been intended.

Read the press release in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article German cities might test free public transport to cut pollution.

European Commission / Federal environment ministry (BMUB)

The European Commission approved Germany’s 70 million euro scheme to encourage public transport operators to replace conventional diesel buses with electric or plug-in hybrids running on renewable electricity under state aid rules, the Commission writes in a press release. EU Commissioner Margarethe Vestager called the plans a “positive example of how to fight global warming”. Public transport operators which plan to buy more than five electric or plug-in-hybrid buses can apply for support for up to 80 percent of the “additional investment costs” through the German environment ministry. This includes all costs that arise when buying an e-bus instead of a diesel bus, including the necessary infrastructure. Electric buses help to keep the air in inner cities clean and reduce noise pollution, while contributing to climate protection, said environment minister Barbara Hendricks. The ministry will initially provide 35 million euros support, but plans to “increase the amount soon”.

Find the EU press release in English here and the BMUB press release in German here.

See the CLEW dossier German carmakers and the Energiewende for background.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

It is surprising that the would-be government coalition partners of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) did not agree to push for a fundamental reform of Germany’s energy taxes and levies system in the coalition talks, because many negotiators had advocated for it beforehand, writes Andreas Mihm in an opinion piece in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The parties had instead agreed to “regulate details” and introduce more ambitious climate targets. The government aims to largely electrify all sectors, but makes the use of power less attractive by upholding the current taxes and levies, writes Mihm. As many provisions in the coalition agreement lack precision and detail, the next energy minister – possibly the Merkel ally and current Chief of the Chancellery Peter Altmaier – will have quite a bit of leeway, writes Mihm.

Read the opinion piece (behind paywall) in FAZ’s e-paper here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future and dossier The next German government and the energy transition.

Federal German Car Sharing Association (bcs)

More than two million customers used car sharing services of 165 companies in Germany by the start of 2018, writes the Federal German Car Sharing Association (bcs) in a press release. “Car sharing is still a small market in regards to the total number of drivers” in Germany, said bcs managing director Gunnar Nehrke. “But the growth rates show that we’re leaving the niche.” At 10.3 percent, the share of e-cars in Germany’s car sharing fleet is 100 times higher than in Germany’s total passenger car fleet. This share could further be increased if government support programmes were better aligned with station-based car sharing offers, said Nehrke.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW dossier German carmakers and the Energiewende for background.

Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)

Expanding electric transport could be used to exploit existing power grid capacity, if the right smart grid technologies are deployed and combined with the inherent flexibility in when electric vehicles (EVs) can be charged, writes the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) in an analysis. “If we get pricing and technology right, EVs could leverage the large amount of unused existing capacity, from the local distribution system right up to central station power plants,” writes RAP. Assessing existing capacity would forestall unnecessary investment and, in so doing, offer benefits to all consumers, not just those who choose to adopt EVs, writes RAP.

Find the analysis in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet How can Germany keep the lights on in a renewable energy future?

German energy company Uniper’s Board of Management has proposed to increase the dividend more than planned to 74 cents per share for 2017 for a total of about 271 million euros, the company writes in an ad-hoc announcement. The total dividend amount would be 8 percent higher than the 250 million euros announced last December.

Find the ad-hoc announcement in English here.

For background, read the CLEW dossier Utilities and the energy transition.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee