News Digest Item
18 May 2018

Mixed reactions to EU decision to sue Germany and other countries over air pollution

Clean Energy Wire

The conservative (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group said the EU Commission should instead support German efforts to improve air quality. “The lawsuit is the exact opposite of that,” transport spokesperson Daniela Ludwig said. “This is beyond my comprehension. The hardware retrofits demanded by the environment ministry are also a dead end, because they are an investment in the past.”
Sustainable transport association VCD said the suit was “an overdue reaction to a scandalously inactive” government. “Chancellor Merkel and her transport ministers are still protecting the deceitful car industry. The suit at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) shows that soft deals with the car industry must end, and that citizens must be better protected.”
NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH), which set the ball rolling by taking local administrations to court over excessive pollution levels, said the suit “clarified that people’s health is more important than increasing diesel companies’ profits.” DUH head Jürgen Resch said the lawsuit was a “slap in the face for car chancellor Angela Merkel.”
In a commentary entitled “Car industry first, citizens second” for newspaper Die Zeit, Alexandra Endres writes that the EU Commission’s decision was welcome and overdue because Merkel had ignored poor air quality and emissions manipulation for years and opposed hardware retrofits, protecting the industry at the expense of citizens.
Michael Bauchmüller writes in an op-ed for Süddeutsche Zeitung “it is as logical as it is embarrassing that the government will be taken to the ECJ for its inaction.”
In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Martin Gropp says the suit is another step towards diesel driving bans, even though it remains unclear that they would improve air quality, and would lead to increased CO2 emissions by boosting petrol engine sales.

For background, see the factsheet Diesel driving bans in Germany – The Q&A and the article Court ruling opens door for diesel bans in German cities.

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