Diesel cars could face even more stern opposition after German city ban was passed
Earlier this week, in a landmark case, German cities were granted to the right to ban diesel cars.
The bans were allowed after concerns about the growing air pollution were raised.
In Germany 70 cities exceeded EU limits for NO2 last year.
The decision by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has paved the way for other European cities to ban these cars.
Concerns from diesel drivers have led many to question what the future of the fuel type is.
There has been a significant reduction in the amount of diesel cars registered in Britain with market share dropping from 45 per cent to 33 per cent, over the course of a year.
Environmental groups are concerned by the impact that nitrogen oxides have on humans, as they have been revealed to cause respiratory issues.
While the ban in Germany is not instantaneous, and won’t see cars being taken off the road immediately, it does our pressure of car manufacturers and Government authorities to deal with the growing crisis.
Bans seem severe and some groups have suggested that manufacturers should spend billions of pounds retrofitting cars to ensure they reduce significantly less pollutants.
This has so far been rejected by the industry due to the amount of money that would have to be spent.
Aman Johal, Director of Your Lawyers, said that the ramifications of the decision has ‘completely changed the industry.
Today’s ruling demonstrates a complete U-turn in attitude toward diesel vehicles
He said: “Today’s ruling demonstrates a complete U-turn in attitude toward diesel vehicles following the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
“For the UK driver, diesel vehicle prices are set to decline, as will the demand. In fact, Porsche (a Volkswagen subsidiary) just announced it was discontinuing diesel vehicles, and this could now be the new normal.
“The Volkswagen PR machine has been churning out positive stories since the Volkswagen emissions scandal first emerged, claiming the emissions scandal has had little impact, but now surely Volkswagen will have to accept, in their boardrooms at least, that the scandal has completely changed the industry.
“I expect the ramifications to be felt around the world especially in Europe where for years diesel sales have been strong.
German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (L) and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt
“Drivers throughout the UK may now understandably feel anxious and wish to trade in diesel vehicles, which will cause the price of diesel vehicles to fall further.”
ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “This ruling gives long-awaited legal clarity that diesel restrictions are legally permissible and will unavoidably start a domino effect across the country, with implications for our other legal cases.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that emissions were only slightly higher than EU limits, so only a few cities would experience the bans.
She said: ”We are examining the ruling and will discuss with municipalities and the communes how to proceed.”
Environmental minister Barbara Hendricks said in response to the ruling that bans are a last resort.
“My goal was, and still is, to ensure that there won’t be amy driving ban,” said Hendricks.
Matthias Wissmann, President of Germany’s VDA car industry lobby said: “Now each city has to make its own judgement on which instruments to fight pollution are effective and proportional.”
Diesel cars will be restricted in London from 2019 with the introduction of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone which charges drivers a daily fee to use.
Rome will also ban all diesel cars from the city centre from 2024 and Paris, Madrid Athens and Mexico City have also previously stated that diesel cars would be banned by 2025.
There is now an expectation that more cities will follow suit.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “Legal action on dirty air is taking place all over Europe and this stunning ruling is likely to make waves in all countries struggling with illegal levels of NO2.
“It also marks a dark day for diesel, which is already facing heavy market struggles.
“Industry could not have received a clearer message: now is the time to innovate towards a cleaner era for transport.”