Appeal over Stuttgart diesel ban will see delay in implementation

03 October 2017

03 October 2017

The German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has said it would appeal against a ruling obliging it to ban diesel cars from the roads of its capital Stuttgart, meaning the planned proposals won’t come into force in January 2018 as planned.

The ban was sought by environmental group DUH (German environmental aid), which won its case against the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in July with the federal administrative court ruling that air pollution should also be reduced with diesel driving bans if necessary, as retrofitting vehicles alone will be insufficient. This ruling was made before the country’s diesel forum on 2 August, where it was announced that 5.3 million vehicles were to be recalled for software retrofitting, with older vehicles being put through a scrappage scheme.

Baden-Wuerttemberg, governed by a coalition of conservatives (CDU) and environmentalist Greens, had already said it would study the court ruling before deciding if and when it would impose the ban, sought by environmental group DUH, in January 2018. Stuttgart regularly reports pollution levels above the designated safe levels prescribed by the EU.

Stuttgart, together with Munich and Cologne, is considering a ban on diesel vehicles in order to reduce high levels of air pollution and NOx emissions caused by diesel engines. DUH went to court two months after the VW scandal broke seeking to force the city of Stuttgart, which is also home to manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and suppliers Bosch and Mahle, to drastically improve its air quality.

According to reports, the Greens in the coalition government wanted the ban. However, the CDU wants the decision made in July to be revisited with the information from the diesel forum to be taken into consideration before a plan to prevent cars entering the city is implemented.

The appeal to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig means the lower court’s ruling does not need to be implemented pending an appeal judgement, with the hearing expected to be heard in late February 2018. However, with uncertainty surrounding diesel, drivers could abandon the fuel anyway, switching to petrol, hybrid or electric, which may lead to a natural drop in air pollution.

The debate within the coalition could be seen as a sign of things to come from the national government. While Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in power, her Christian Democratic party (CDU) didn’t win enough votes to govern outright. With the Social Democratic Party (SDP) deciding to go into opposition, the CDU will need an alliance with the Green Party, as well as the pro-industry Free Liberal Democrats (FDP) to rule effectively. For the country’s beleaguered automotive industry, this could cause an issue, with the Greens supporting city bans.