Germany's second biggest city is starting to ban diesel cars

Hamburg is about to become the first city in Europe to implement a partial ban on diesel vehicles to cut pollution....

Posted: May 23, 2018 1:47 PM
Updated: May 23, 2018 1:47 PM

Hamburg is about to become the first city in Europe to implement a partial ban on diesel vehicles to cut pollution.

Officials said they would begin banning older diesel cars and trucks from a main road in the center of Germany's second biggest city starting on May 31. Another key road in Hamburg will also be off limits to older diesel trucks.

Germany has been under rising pressure from residents to improve urban air quality since Volkswagen admitted rigging diesel engine emissions tests in 2015. But the country's powerful car industry lobbied hard against outright bans.

Dozens of German cities frequently exceed air pollution limits set by the European Union, and in February the country's top court ruled that they could ban diesel vehicles.

Hamburg has installed roughly 100 signs to alert drivers to the new rules and offer alternative routes. A city spokesperson was not immediately available to clarify if local residents would be exempt from the diesel ban.

Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association show that nearly one-third of cars in Germany -- or about 15 million -- are powered by diesel. Most diesel cars sold before 2016 would be covered by Hamburg's limited ban.

The city is also introducing other measures to improve air quality. It's encouraging more cycling and installing hundreds of charging points for electric cars, among other things.

The European Commission announced this month it would take Germany to Europe's top court for failing to respect air quality rules, along with five other nations.

Critics have accused the German government of dragging its feet in setting effective air pollution rules due to concerns that this would hurt the country's automakers.

"Now is really the time for [Chancellor Angela] Merkel and her government to really take the lead and start acting on pollution," said Ugo Taddei, an environmental lawyer who has campaigned to ban diesel cars.

Related: Are electric cars more likely to catch fire?

Automakers including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have been bracing for new restrictions on diesel vehicles amid rising public concern over the health problems caused by their nitrogen oxide emissions.

Volkswagen warned in February that diesel bans by city authorities could "produce a regulatory hotchpotch in Germany, which is unsettling for millions of motorists."

Related: Volkswagen's new CEO is called 'the cost killer'

Vehicles produce around 40% of nitrogen oxide emissions in the EU, and diesels account for most of those.

The European Commission estimates that over 400,000 people die prematurely each year because of air pollution and nitrogen oxide emissions in the EU.

Diesel generates far more harmful air pollutants than gasoline, yet the fuel was promoted by governments in Europe for decades in the hope of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. (Diesel engines are more fuel efficient.)

Sales of diesel cars are now plunging. Just 44% of all new cars sold in Western Europe last year were diesel powered, down from 56% in 2011.

-- Nadine Schmidt in Berlin contributed reporting.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 71015

Reported Deaths: 3013
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15322723
Lake7343274
Elkhart471380
Allen3725160
St. Joseph330179
Hamilton2610104
Vanderburgh184213
Hendricks1814106
Cass17669
Johnson1694118
Porter123839
Clark114846
Tippecanoe114611
Madison89565
LaPorte86930
Howard85565
Kosciusko82712
Marshall75822
Bartholomew75447
Floyd74045
Monroe70830
Delaware68052
Dubois65812
Boone65346
Noble64529
Hancock63838
Jackson5625
LaGrange55410
Warrick55330
Vigo54310
Shelby53527
Grant52029
Dearborn47928
Morgan45134
Clinton4043
Henry36919
White35110
Montgomery34621
Wayne34610
Lawrence33727
Decatur32432
Harrison30923
Putnam2778
Miami2642
Daviess25920
Scott25710
Greene24134
Franklin23413
DeKalb2234
Jasper2192
Jennings21512
Gibson2084
Steuben2043
Ripley1947
Perry17912
Fayette1777
Starke1747
Orange16624
Posey1650
Wabash1613
Fulton1592
Carroll1572
Wells1542
Jefferson1532
Whitley1476
Knox1420
Tipton1296
Huntington1213
Washington1211
Spencer1193
Newton11410
Randolph1144
Clay1045
Sullivan911
Adams892
Jay840
Owen831
Pulaski751
Brown711
Rush714
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford592
Ohio574
Pike520
Parke501
Vermillion480
Crawford440
Switzerland440
Martin420
Union350
Warren201
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97471

Reported Deaths: 3618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17834521
Cuyahoga13141491
Hamilton9374252
Lucas5155320
Montgomery417487
Summit3433218
Marion291045
Butler282262
Mahoning2477254
Pickaway237842
Stark1766137
Warren171136
Lorain168977
Columbiana161860
Trumbull1481105
Fairfield130931
Delaware126319
Licking120247
Clark111514
Lake107338
Wood99358
Clermont89211
Medina88735
Miami81137
Tuscarawas76214
Portage74361
Allen69942
Greene65611
Belmont59226
Richland58911
Mercer57313
Erie55627
Ashtabula55045
Geauga54844
Wayne51958
Ross4444
Huron3885
Ottawa36825
Sandusky36316
Darke36027
Athens3531
Hancock3533
Madison34910
Holmes3266
Lawrence2420
Auglaize2395
Union2331
Jefferson2192
Muskingum2151
Scioto2111
Putnam19917
Washington19822
Knox1917
Seneca1903
Coshocton1886
Shelby1774
Preble1762
Crawford1715
Morrow1652
Hardin15912
Clinton1586
Champaign1571
Highland1461
Fulton1441
Logan1402
Ashland1373
Wyandot1368
Defiance1334
Williams1303
Brown1232
Perry1163
Guernsey1147
Hocking1149
Henry1132
Carroll1105
Fayette1090
Monroe9118
Pike750
Jackson730
Van Wert701
Paulding640
Gallia621
Adams592
Meigs330
Vinton302
Morgan230
Harrison221
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Few Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 55°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 57°
Decatur
54° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
54° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 54°
Sunny, Seasonable Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events