Hamburg will start enforcing new rules by the end of the month

BERLIN – German cities are entitled to ban older diesel vehicles from streets with immediate effect to bring air pollution levels in line with European Union rules, Germany’s top administrative court confirmed on Friday.

Germany opened the door to diesel bans in February when it allowed environmental groups to sue cities which fail to enforce Europe’s clean air rules, despite fierce lobbying to oppose bans from carmakers.


In a 30-page statement on the ruling which was published on Friday, Germany’s administrative court in Leipzig said there should be no grace periods for driving bans.

“Such restrictions, in their intensity, do not go beyond other passage and stopping bans as justified by road law requirements, which motorists always have to reckon with and which they principally have to accept,” the court said.

European carmakers have invested heavily in diesel engines, which produce less of the carbon that causes global warming than gasoline, but more of other pollutants blamed for causing disease. Germany’s move to allow cities to ban diesel engines from streets could have wide implications for the future of the industry.

Immediate driving bans on major roads or road sections would be legitimate and could affect all models excluding those meeting the latest Euro-6 emissions standards, the ruling statement said. Euro-6 was phased in 2014.

Read more: Autoblog