German cities will be allowed to ban older diesel vehicles from some areas following a court ruling.
The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig said the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf could legally ban older diesel cars which are more polluting from zones most affected by pollution.
The ruling sets a precedent for other cities; it could lead to similar action across Europe.
The government, which had opposed the bans, said they could still be avoided.
The ruling by a top federal court came after German states had appealed against bans imposed by local courts in Stuttgart and Duesseldorf.
The environmental group DUH brought the cases after about 70 German cities exceeded European Union limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) last year.
Diesel emissions containing nitrogen oxides can cause respiratory disease.
The likelihood now is that the German government will rush to introduce some sort of national policy, to ensure at least some level of consistency across the country.
But it’s not just about Germany – cities across Europe are struggling to meet EU air quality standards, and may well see the German ruling as setting a precedent.
New diesel cars won’t be affected, but consumers are already moving away from the technology – and the prospect of city bans will only accelerate that process.
Although diesels produce high levels of nitrogen oxide – a major urban pollutant – they emit relatively low levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens have all pledged to ban diesel vehicles from city centres by 2025, while the mayor of Copenhagen wants to ban new diesel cars from entering the city as soon as next year.
Carmakers including VW-owned Porsche and Toyota have also signalled they will move away from diesel technology.
From the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43211946