German court says cities of Cologne and Bonn must impose diesel bans

Environment

A fuel tank cap of a diesel car is pictured in Berlin, Germany, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) – A German court ruled on Thursday that the western city of Cologne must introduce bans on older diesel vehicles in certain areas from April 2019 and the nearby city of Bonn must impose bans on diesel vehicles for two busy roads at the same time.

Environmental lobby group DUH had filed complaints against the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to Cologne and Bonn, saying the cities needed to ensure their nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels stuck to permitted limits and calling for a ban of diesel vehicles in those cities.

The court ruled that the ban to be applied to Cologne’s existing environmental zone would first affect diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 4 emissions standard before extending to vehicles meeting the Euro 5 standard from September 2019.

An appeal can be filed against the court’s decision.

Emissions from diesel cars have pushed nitrogen levels above the permitted level of 50 milligrams per cubic meter in dozens of cities across Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is keen to avoid wildly unpopular driving bans for diesel vehicles.

Other German cities including Berlin and Frankfurt – the country’s financial capital – have also been told by courts to introduce bans on older diesel vehicles which emit higher amounts of pollutants than later models.

Germany’s highest administrative court in February confirmed that such bans are permissible.

A series of scandals involving schemes to conceal the true levels of pollutant emissions from diesel cars has dealt repeated blows to the global reputation of Germany’s car industry in recent years.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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