German lawmakers raise hurdle for diesel bans

phys.org | 3/15/2019 | Staff
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Lawmakers in Germany moved Friday to make bans on older diesel vehicles in city centres less likely, angering environmentalists by backing off strict EU-wide pollution thresholds.

The upper house confirmed a Bundestag (lower house) vote to henceforth deem "disproportionate" driving bans in cities that only slightly exceed air pollution limits.

Practice - Cities - European - Union - Limit

In practice it will give cities above the European Union's upper limit of an annual average of 40 microgrammes of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) per cubic metre, but less than 50 microgrammes, flexibility to take other measures to reduce air pollution.

"Driving bans are a harsh medicine, and they are only proportionate if it is unlikely other measures will quickly mean the limits are respected," junior environment minister Florian Pronold said Thursday.

Authorities - Hamburg - Stuttgart - Months - Court

Local authorities in Hamburg and Stuttgart have in recent months bowed to court orders for exclusion zones on older cars using the fuel in a bid to reduce pollution, with other cities including capital Berlin set to follow suit.

Those rulings were based on the EU upper limit of 40 microgrammes of NO2.

Cities - NO2 - Levels - Microgrammes - Metre

Numerous German cities have NO2 levels above 50 microgrammes per cubic metre.

An environmentalist group that successfully sued for many of the diesel bans in heavily-polluted cities criticised the move.

EU - Europe-wide

"The EU... makes unmistakeably clear that the Europe-wide...
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