German court to rule on older diesel car bans

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FRANKFURT AM MAIN — A top German court will issue a hotly awaited decision Tuesday on whether cities can ban older diesel cars from some areas, potentially upending transport policy and a disrupting a keystone industry.

Judges at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig last Thursday adjourned over the weekend, saying they needed more time to “deliberate very thoroughly” on the issue.

From 1100 GMT they will once again be in the spotlight, ruling on whether the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf can legally ban older, more polluting diesel vehicles from zones worst afflicted with air pollution.

A finding in favor of environmentalist plaintiffs Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) would not only affect the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, whose respective capitals are on the docket, but the whole country.

Both the government and the car industry are against driving bans, fearing outrage from the millions of diesel owners whose lives would be disrupted and whose vehicles would lose value.

But the federal government is already preparing for the possible consequences, with plans for a cut-down version of diesel bans surfacing in the media over the weekend.

The transport ministry could later this year update traffic regulations to include the option of a city-ordered ban on certain routes, to alleviate pollution from harmful fine particles and nitrogen oxides (NOx). — AFP