Two more cities target diesels

The demise of diesel engines in Europe’s car fleet will continue following announcements affecting Barcelona and Munich. Barcelona will ban all cars older than 20 years old from 2019, while a court has ordered Munich to develop plans by the end of this year for banning diesel-fuelled cars.

The order in Munich came following an action brought by T&E’s German member DUH, which complained that the state of Bavaria had breached EU limits in two places. Bavaria’s highest administrative court ruled on 1 March that the state and the city of Munich have until the end of the year to draw up clean air plans that include bans on diesel cars when necessary. At the same time, there is a national lawsuit undergoing consideration that will determine whether banning a category of cars is consistent with German road traffic rules.

DUH director Jürgen Resch said: ‘This decision means that from 2018 there will be bans on diesel cars in Munich.’ Gerd Lottsiepen of T&E’s other German member organisation VCD added: ‘No-one wants driving bans, but they’re the option of last resort that must now be brought into play because the car companies have failed to cut NO2 sufficiently.’

The decision to ban older cars in Barcelona is not specifically aimed at diesels but will clearly affect diesels. The measure – a joint initiative between the city, municipalities on the edge of Barcelona, and the state of Catalunya – will make it illegal on working days to drive cars bought before January 1997 and vans bought before October 1994.

Barcelona suffers from air quality that breaches World Health Organisation guidelines. Although the ban on older cars does not come into effect until January 2019, if there are periods of high air pollution in 2018, the older cars can be temporarily banned. The city says around 7% of cars and 16% of vans in Catalunya will be affected.

Last December, four cities – Athens, Madrid, Mexico City and Paris – decided to ban diesel cars by 2025 in an attempt to improve air quality. They hope to achieve this by a mixture of incentives for low-emitting cars and the promotion of walking and cycling.

In a new study, the World Health Organisation says air pollution – indoor and outdoor – is responsible for the death of 570,000 children under five years old every year.