Ger­man court oKs cities to ban diesel cars

The Republican Herald - - NATION/WORLD -

BER­LIN (AP) — Hand­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists a land­mark vic­tory, a Ger­man court ruled Tues­day that cities can ban diesel cars and trucks to com­bat air pol­lu­tion, a de­ci­sion with far-reach­ing and costly im­pli­ca­tions in the coun­try where the diesel en­gine was in­vented in the 1890s.

The rul­ing by the Fed­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court stirred fears from mo­torists, auto deal­ers and other busi­nesses wor­ried about the fi­nan­cial im­pact. And Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment scram­bled to re­as­sure driv­ers it would seek to pre­vent such dras­tic mea­sures by push­ing other ways to re­duce ur­ban pol­lu­tion.

Diesel au­to­mo­biles are a pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tive to gaso­line-pow­ered ones in Ger­many, with about 9 mil­lion diesel cars and sev­eral mil­lion trucks, buses and other ve­hi­cles af­fected by the rul­ing.

Over­all, 1 in 3 pas­sen­ger cars in Ger­many, home to such au­tomak­ers as Daim­ler, Volk­swa­gen and BMW, are diesel-pow­ered, though the clean­est, most modern mod­els would prob­a­bly still be al­lowed even if cities de­cided on a ban.

“It’s a great day for clean air in Ger­many,” said Juer­gen Resch, head of the group En­vi­ron­men­tal Ac­tion Ger­many, which had sued dozens of Ger­man cities for fail­ing to meet legally bind­ing emis­sions lim­its.

While diesel cars pro­duce less car­bon diox­ide and tend to get bet­ter mileage than gas-pow­ered ve­hi­cles, they emit higher lev­els of ni­tro­gen ox­ides, or NOx, con­tribut­ing to res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses and 6,000 deaths an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures.

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