Hamburg first city to issue partial diesel ban from May 31
Hamburg is the first German city to issue a partial ban on diesel cars that don’t comply with the Euro 6 standard, from May 31 on two major traffic axes in the Altona-Nord district. After a long legal battle cities were given the authority to install Low Emission Zones (LEZ) by the Constitutional Court in February.
Exceptions for inhabitants
Although the diesel ban is targeted at older diesel cars, exceptions are made for emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, delivery vans and taxis, but also for residents and their visitors.
As only the highest level of Euro 6 diesel cars are allowed, more than one-third of all diesel vehicles in the city are banned. The ban is valid in two stretches of 1.600 and 580 metres, where road signs are already installed.
Bad air quality
In February the Constitutional Court in Leipzig allowed the cities of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf to install traffic restrictions to do something about the bad air quality. This opened the way for other cities too – like Hamburg – which have similar problems with air quality.
The court ordered though that the diesel ban could only be issued progressively, starting with the oldest diesels first and foreseeing exceptions for certain groups of inhabitants and merchants.
Pressure on German government
The verdict puts pressure on the German government, which is not in favour of a national ban on diesel cars, as it would heavily hurt the German car industry, which employs over 700.000 people. Instead it put aside a billion euro to help cities to develop their public transport network or encourage the sale of electric vehicles.
Germany is under pressure from the European Union too, as the Commission decided last week to send six countries, among which Germany, to the EU court for not respecting the air quality standards set by the Union, especially in the field of NOx emissions.
‘Better ways to fight air pollution’
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) reacts to the Hamburg ban, saying there are better ways to fight air pollution. VDA mentions “innovation to make a bigger contribution” and points at the fact that last year 1,1 million diesel cars with Euro 6 standard hit the streets.
Last month German automotive supplier Bosch claimed a breakthrough in clean diesel technology, reducing NOx emissions to 40 milligram in busy city traffic or even 13 milligrams per kilometre in best circumstances in real driving conditions, far below current standards.