Frankfurt must impose diesel car ban, court rules

A new ban could affect a quarter of vehicles in Frankfurt, as well as countless commuters

The western German city of Frankfurt is now obliged to introduce a ban on high-polluting diesel vehicles, a court ruled on Wednesday, after environmental activists brought a case against the state of Hesse for allowing Germany's financial capital to exceed maximum safe levels of nitrogen oxide and consequently worsening city's air quality.

Ruling in favor of the group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH, or Environmental Action Germany in English), the German administrative court in Wiesbaden ordered Hesse to bring the city into line with regulations by banning high-polluting diesel vehicles from parts of the city. So starting in February 2019, the driving ban will affect diesel cars of Euro-4 emission standards or worse, as well as petrol cars of Euro-1 and 2 standards. Euro-5 diesels must be banned from next September. The court also ordered other measures to cut pollution in Frankfurt such as more electric buses, higher parking fees and more park-and-ride places on the outskirts of the city.

"The driving ban is necessary because all other measures considered by the state will not lead to a significant reduction of nitrogen oxides emissions in an appropriate time," said presiding judge Rolf Hartmann.

It was not immediately clear how many vehicles would be affected or how widely. If upheld, however, the ruling might affect about a quarter of the cars registered in Frankfurt, as well as countless commuters and visitors from the surrounding area.

Furthermore, decision puts Frankfurt beside several German cities, which have now planned to, or have already started imposing partial diesel bans, including Hamburg and even car-mad Stuttgart, home to Daimler and Porsche. Other cities considering bans include Aachen and Düsseldorf .

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