Victory Column, Berlin, Germany

German diesel fix “totally inadequate” say environmental lawyers

The German government has announced today a plan to ‘solve’ the diesel crisis through hardware retrofits and scrappage schemes in an attempt to combat illegal air pollution across the country.

Responding to the announcement, ClientEarth clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “After a long wait, this, unfortunately, looks like an inadequate solution to an endemic national problem – and it will not be enough to avoid court-imposed diesel restrictions. The plan addresses illegal air pollution in only 14 cities but ignores many more with illegal and dangerous levels of pollution across Germany.

“People across Germany have the right to breathe clean air but this plan proposes only voluntary measures and cash incentives. It will do very little to remove the older, dirtier vehicles from Germany’s roads and bring harmful air pollution down in the shortest time possible. The plan also ignores the risk that older vehicles will be replaced with newer, but still highly polluting diesel vehicles.

“If they are serious about combatting illegal air pollution, Germany’s leaders must compel manufacturers to take action and urgently move the country away from polluting vehicles to cleaner transport.”

ClientEarth and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) have between them taken legal action to fight for clean air in a total of 34 cities across Germany.

DUH CEO Juergen Resch said: “This new failure by the Federal Government makes it clear that to ensure clean air across Germany, the courts must step in. In the next ten weeks, court decisions are expected in eight other cities struggling with illegal levels of harmful pollution from diesel vehicles.”

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Mathias Arlund