Germany has been quite slow to adopt electric vehicles. It’s partly due to domestic automakers just now starting to launch a new generation of EVs and also due to the country being entrenched in diesel for years.
But now that the Dieselgate scandal has shaken up the industry and brought to light the air pollution problems that come with the fuel, new more drastic solutions could start to be implemented: bans.
Several major cities around the world have been imposing occasional day-long bans on gas and diesel-powered cars when the level of smog becomes dangerous and other more permanent access restrictions to older more polluting vehicles.
In Germany, the problem is mainly with nitrogen dioxide due to the high concentration of diesel cars.
The situation is apparently particularly alarming in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, but the federal government, backed by the local auto industry, has been against imposing any ban on those vehicles.
Now the environmental and consumer watchdog Environmental Action Germany (DUH) has taken both cities to court in order to force them to act and protect public health.
Today, we learned that Germany’s top administrative court has ruled that it is legal for cities to ban diesel cars. A local paper reported:
“The court in Stuttgart said driving bans were the “most effective” means to improve air quality and safeguard health in urban areas, while the Düsseldorf court found the bans had to be “seriously examined.”
Due to the ruling, bans could be in place as soon as September 2018.
I get it. No one likes regulations that ban you from doing something, but I think it’s much needed in this case.
People have difficulties understanding the impact of their actions when the result is not direct and instantaneous, but it doesn’t mean that the impact is not there and significant.
In the case of nitrogen dioxide, we now have plenty of evidence showing the grave short-term and long-term impacts of higher emission concentration on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Therefore, it makes sense to phase out the technology as soon as possible and in the more important cases, like in a few cities in Germany and other countries where diesel cars are popular, it probably makes sense to take more drastic measures like bans.
I think it’s a very bad look for automakers trying to prevent those measures. It clearly shows that they care more about having a few more years of profit selling those machines than about the public health.
They should instead take the opportunity to promote their electric vehicles in those regions and show some leadership.