Diesel ban in Germany one step closer after court decision

An appeal court in Germany has upheld a decision which could mean a diesel ban in Munich by the beginning of next year.

The case, brought by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) with support from ClientEarth, was a response to the Bavarian government’s failure to act in the face of illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution (NO2) which in towns and cities comes mostly from diesel vehicles.

Having lost the initial case, rather than act immediately to safeguard the health of people living and working in Munich, the Bavarian authorities appealed to the highest court possible.

The Bavarian Administrative Court’s ruling is significant not just for Munich but for Germany as a whole. DUH and ClientEarth launched eight cases in Germany in 2015 in areas where authorities had failed to bring down air pollution to within legal limits.

This latest ruling means the Bavarian government must consult on a Munich diesel ban in the summer and produce a new clean air plan by the end of the year, showing how that ban would be implemented.

Munich diesel ban judgment ‘a triumph’

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “This judgment is a triumph for the health of everyone in Munich. After years of resisting, the local authorities are finally going to have to fulfil their duty to protect those who live and work there from dirty air – or face financial penalties.

“It also sets the tone for our other clean air cases in Germany. Judges can take their cues from this ruling, enforcing local and national government’s duty to clean up toxic and illegal pollution across the country as soon as possible.”

ClientEarth is currently fighting legal battles for clean air in Brussels, the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy. It won its second case against the UK Government in November of last year when the High Court ruled the government’s plans to bring down illegal levels of NO2 air pollution inadequate and ordered for them to be improved. The UK government must produce a draft of these improved plans by 24 April.

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