Court forces Berlin to ban diesel on major city axes
On Tuesday, the Berlin administrative court or Verwaltungsgericht has ordered city government to take measures to ban diesel cars (except Euro 6) from 11 major axes in the inner city from July 2019. A ‘slap in the face’ of Angela Merkel, who just tried to avoid these kind of diesel bans by letting the industry pay for upgrading the older diesel fleet.
Merkel will see a diesel ban installed right under her nose in the capital of Germany, after Hamburg became the first German city to issue a ban, be it only on two major streets. Berlin has already a ‘milder’ Low Emission Zone (LEZ), called ‘Umweltzone‘ since 2008, being one of the first at that time. Today some 70 German cities have these LEZs, but some allow cars up to Euro 3 and 4.
Green sticker to become blue
The ‘Umweltzone’ in Berlin includes the whole area within the Ringbahn, the railroad ring used by the S-trains. Since January 2010, only cars with a green environmental sticker (Euro 4 and up) are allowed.
These rules are to be sharpened now in 11 major axes through the capital, including the popular Friedrichstraße. A ‘blue sticker’ for Euro 6 cars and up, the only ones that will be allowed, is yet to be defined in Germany.
The court asks the city government to lower emissions in more than 100 other streets too, but allows that to be done by other measures like a 30 kph speed limit, without a total diesel ban being enforced.
Impact on 200.000 car drivers
The court’s decision is to impact more than 200.000 car drivers, German media estimate. For Jürgen Resch, president of environmental organization, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, that initiated the trial at the administrative courts for several cities, “this is a beautiful day for the air we are breathing”. The organization had asked for a diesel ban in the whole city, something the judges didn’t want to enforce to that extent.
For the German car industry, reluctant to give up diesel technology it invested heavily in, and chancellor Merkel who wants to protect the 800.000 jobs in the industry, this is another battle lost. Berlin is now added to a growing list of cities in Europe where the diesel car is stopped at the outer limits.