Munich from above

Mayor of Munich considers diesel ban

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Hoping to reduce the “shocking” levels of nitrogen oxides in the city, the mayor of Munich is hoping to implement a ban on diesel vehicles. This would make Munich the first German city to introduce such a measure.

As a fuel-efficient alternative to petrol engines, diesel engines are extremely popular in Germany, accounting for approximately half the cars sold in the country before the manipulation of nitrogen oxides emissions tests came to light.

The revelation that diesel cars manufactured by Volkswagen and many other manufacturers were knowingly emitting far higher levels of nitrogen oxides than regulators allow demonstrated that automakers are struggling to comply with emissions caps aimed at preventing air pollution. Demand for diesel cars has declined around the world since reports of the cheating emerged in 2015.

Nitrogen oxides damage ozone when they react with sunlight, contribute to acid rain and smog, and cause a variety of health complications.

Research conducted by newspaper Sueddeutsche Zietung showed that levels of nitrogen oxides in Munich – home of BMW – were far higher than expected, with levels exceeding European limits even on residential streets.

The results are “shocking, nobody expected this”, said Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich. He said that while there were many factors to consider in how to approach this problem, the health of Munich’s citizens came first.

“As much as I would welcome avoiding such bans, I think it is [..] unlikely that we can continue to do without bans in the future,” said Reiter. He said that charging drivers to use their diesel cars in the city centre would not be as effective as a ban on the vehicles.

A ban on diesel vehicles in the city could affect 133,000 to 170,000 vehicles depending on severity of the ban, Sueddeutsche Zietung reported. It is likely that diesel cars which meet the most recent emission requirements (Euro 6) would be exempt.

Reiter told the newspaper that he hopes to have draft legislation in place by the end of 2017. He could, however, face resistance from Munich’s powerful car lobby, and the governing Christian Social Union, which has vocally opposed diesel bans in the past.

In June 2016, a federal court rules that Munich had 12 months to improve its air quality, or else it would face a fine.

Stuttgart, home of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, is planning a ban on some older diesel vehicles, which could be implemented from 2018 onwards. The Munich ban, however, would be the strictest yet.

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