COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) – A German court ruled on Thursday that Cologne must introduce bans on older diesel vehicles in some parts of the city from next April, prompting state authorities to launch an appeal.
A fuel tank cap of a diesel car is pictured in Berlin, Germany, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Environmental lobby group DUH had filed complaints against the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to Cologne and Bonn, saying the cities needed to ensure their nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels stuck to permitted limits and calling for a ban of diesel vehicles in those cities.
The court ruled that the ban to take effect in Cologne’s existing environmental zone would first affect diesel vehicles meeting the older Euro 4 emissions standard before extending to vehicles meeting the Euro 5 standard from September 2019.
The court said the nearby city of Bonn must impose bans on diesel vehicles for two busy roads from next April.
State Environment Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser said: “It will cause a lot of disruption for the transport infrastructure of the city of Cologne and have a significant impact on residents, commuters and for the whole of Cologne as a business hub.”
“The court did not address the issue of proportionality of such a far-reaching decision and for that reason we will of course file an appeal,” she added.
A series of scandals involving schemes to conceal the true levels of pollutant emissions from diesel cars has dealt repeated blows to the global reputation of Germany’s car industry in recent years.
Other German cities including Berlin and Frankfurt – the country’s financial capital – have also been told by courts to introduce bans on older diesel vehicles which emit higher amounts of pollutants than later models.
Emissions from diesel cars have pushed nitrogen levels above the permitted level of 50 milligrams per cubic meter in dozens of cities across Germany, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is keen to avoid driving bans that are unpopular with the manufacturers of diesel vehicles.
Car executives are meeting German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer on Thursday to discuss how to tackle diesel emissions in Germany.
A spokesman for German carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) on Thursday denied a report on Manager Magazin’s website that said the carmaker was prepared to fully cover the costs of diesel hardware fixes which would come in at 3,000 euros ($3,426.30) per vehicle.
The VW spokesman said the report was false, adding that Volkswagen had not made such an offer. Manager Magazin later updated its report to say VW was sticking with its position that it was willing to cover 80 percent of the costs.
BMW on Thursday reiterated its view that it does not see hardware retrofits for its diesel models as a sensible option and stressed that fleet renewal, along with software updates already under way, were the only widely effective measure available.
Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Maria Sheahan/Keith Weir