German court rules on diesel engines ban.

The German highest administrative court approved possibility for the German cities to ban heavily polluting diesel engine vehicles from the streets. The decision may influence the Europe’s largest car market. It is a great day for clean air – say environmental activists.

Ban to tackle pollution

The cases were brought in front of courts of Stuttgart and Dusseldorf (deemed two most polluted German cities) by two German environmental organizations – Deutsche Umwelthilfe and ClientEarth. Both demanding the cities to be able to ban older diesel vehicles from their streets in order to bring the air pollution levels down. The right to impose bans were confirmed by the Stuttgart and Dusseldorf courts but the judgments were appealed from by the states of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. In its recent judgment the German highest administrative court in Leipzig dismissed the appeals and upheld the lower courts’ rulings. It is possible that following the court’s ruling other German cities will introduce bans for the most polluting diesel vehicles. The ruling also raises concern among owners of the diesel cars which – in case the bans are more widespread across Germany – may lose their second hand value.

Victory for environmental organizations

“It’s a great day for clean air in Germany,” said Jürgen Resch, of the Deutsche Umwelthilfe following the ruling while Ugo Taddei representing ClientEarth added [both quoted after www.the] that “this ruling gives us legal clarity which we’ve long waited for, that diesel restrictions are legally permissible and will necessarily trigger a domino effect across the country, impacting as well on other legal cases”. On the other hand, the German government officials are more moderate in their opinions on practical importance of the judgment. Barbara Hendricks, the German environmental minister [quoted after www.the] commented that “the court has not issued any driving bans but created clarity about the law. Driving bans can be avoided, and my goal is and will remain that they do not come into force.”

Germany is among several countries facing the threat of legal action from the European Commission unless they do more to solve the air pollution problem.