German court OKs diesel car restrictions in some urban areas

Feb. 27 (UPI) — A German court ruled Tuesday that cities may ban older diesel vehicles in an effort to reduce air pollution.

The Federal Administrative Court said the cities of Düsseldorf and Stuttgart could prohibit the vehicles in urban areas. The opinion overturned a lower court’s ruling that supported opposition to the bans by the government of German states.

The landmark ruling could pave the way for all other German cities to enact similar bans. The BBC reported it’s likely the federal government may try to enact a law to set consistency across the country.

The potential for nationwide enactment of similar bans could spell trouble for the country’s automakers, including Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, all of which saw stocks drop in the wake of the ruling.

German environmental group Deutsch Umwelthlife, known by the acronym DUH, worked on behalf of the cities against the state governments. The BBC said about 70 German cities exceeded EU limits for emitting nitrogen oxides in 2017.

After the federal court’s ruling, the city of Hamburg said it would implement a previous plan to ban diesel vehicles that adhere to older emissions standards.

The move comes one day after the European Commission said it supported Germany’s plans to spend more than $ 80 million on infrastructure for greener public transportation.

“This scheme is another positive example of how to fight global warming,” Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement. “In line with the EU environmental goals, it will give public transport operators an incentive to invest in low or zero emissions vehicles with the clear objective of reducing CO2 emissions and improving air quality.”

The public transportation scheme envisions support for the acquisition of plug-in electric buses instead of diesel-fueled options as well as the construction of the infrastructure necessary to charge and operate the cleaner vehicles.

Daniel J. Graeber contributed to this report.

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