From the beginning of 2019, older diesels will no longer be allowed in select parts of central Stuttgart, according to new rules announced on Wednesday by the Green-led state government of Baden-Württemberg.
The ban will come into effect on January 1 in the hometown of carmakers Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi. Overall the Stuttgart region has around 530,000 diesel vehicles. The new regulation will affect an estimated 190,000 vehicles that only meet the emission standard Euro 4.
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"From 2019 there will be a driving restriction in the green environmental zone for older diesel Euro-4 and below with a transitional arrangement for local residents and reasonable exceptions for tradesmen and delivery services," said the head of the Green parliamentary group in Baden-Württemberg, Andreas Schwarz.
More modern Euro 5 diesels, the standards of which were introduced in September 2009, or Euro 6 diesel models, which were introduced in September 2014, are so far not affected.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze reacted to the news by calling on Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer to finally set federal rules for diesel upgrades. "The longer you wait for older diesels to be retrofitted with hardware, the more likely we are to see driving bans. Now diesel owners have to pay for the massive mistakes of the car industry," she said. Adding that without such technical fixes, "we will be unable to reach our goal of making the air in the cities cleaner."
A breath of fresh air
While not revealing all the details of the plan, the government said the ban would be part of a wider package of measures to clean up the city's air, which has exceeded EU pollution levels.
Some of these measures include the expansion of express bus routes, bringing down the price of public transport and adding bus lanes to particularly busy streets. But if this is not enough to improve air quality by this time next year the plan "will be updated in accordance with the courts' requirements," said Schwarz.
The court order he is talking about is a Federal Administrative Court decision from February that stipulated German cities had the right to impose diesel bans in an attempt to cut down air pollution.
This latest ban in Stuttgart follows in the footsteps of the northern port city of Hamburg, which was the first municipality to impose a partial ban at the end of May. Hamburg's restrictions have been widely criticized though as ineffective as they only cover two streets and allows for many exceptions.
tr/kd (dpa, AFP)