Berlin could shut out diesel drivers from major arterial roads next year, after a court on Tuesday ordered the German capital to follow in the footsteps of Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart with exclusion zones.

 German capital to ban most diesel vehicles

A renewed focus on air quality in the wake of Volkswagen's 2015 "dieselgate" scandal - in which the car giant admitted to cheating regulatory tests on 11 million cars worldwide - has seen a wave of courtroom action across Germany.

In the capital city, "the current clean air plan does not include sufficient measures to meet annual limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2)," the Berlin judges said.

City authorities "must order a driving ban for the streets where the threshold is not met," targeting cars up to the Euro 5 emissions standard, they ruled.

Local media estimate that this would affect as many as 200,000 cars, some only three or four years old, with some exceptions, including for tradesmen.

Definite exclusion zones include 11 stretches of major arteries, and Berlin must also examine whether driving bans are needed on a further 15 kilometres (nine miles) of road, a tiny fraction of its total 5,343 kilometres.

"This ruling is a ringing slap in the face" for the government, Greenpeace transport spokesman Benjamin Stephan said.

"As long as the car industry is not forced into hardware refits for all dirty diesels in every city, driving bans will be the only effective measure."

Tuesday was "a good day for clean air," agreed Juergen Resch, head of the DUH environmentalist group that brought the court case.

"In Berlin we have 250,000 people who suffer from asthma, including 50,000 children."

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) including NO2 are estimated to cause thousands of premature deaths in Germany each year.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the gases aggravate asthma and bronchitis symptoms and are linked to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

In Berlin, annual average levels reach 49 milligrammes per cubic metre - well above the federal government's 40-milligramme limit - while in 14 other cities levels exceed 50 milligrammes.

Germany is one of a number of countries that have missed European Union deadlines to bring down levels of NOx in urban air, opening them to potential legal action from Brussels.

https://www.evolutionalblogs.com/p/two-2-odds.html
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