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Berlin judge says diesel ban only way to cut pollution enough

Reuters 2018-10-09 16:48:47

BERLIN (Reuters) - A ban on older diesel vehicles is the only way to bring pollution down to within permitted limits, a judge in Berlin said on Tuesday, signalling he may rule in favour of a diesel driving ban in parts of the German capital.

Cars are seen at Kaiserdamm street, which could be affected by a court hearing on case seeking diesel cars ban in Berlin, Germany, October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Judge Ulrich Marticke made his comments in court ahead of a ruling expected later in the day.

While he said the level of harmful nitrogen dioxide in the air was declining, he added there was no reasonable doubt that a ban on older diesel vehicles was the only way to cut pollution to permitted limits.

The case was brought against the city-state by environmental lobby group DUH, which wants Berlin to reduce air pollution by banning diesel vehicles up to the Euro 4 standard from the end of 2018 and for Euro 5 standard cars from September 2019. The latest standard is Euro 6.

Local broadcaster rbb reported on Friday that Berlin authorities were looking at imposing driving bans on older diesel cars on 20 streets, including major routes in the city.

Volkswagen’s admission in 2015 that it cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests led to the discovery that diesel vehicles from several manufacturers routinely exceed pollution limits in normal driving conditions, prompting a regulatory crackdown.

Environmental groups have been encouraged by a federal court ruling in February that allowed cities to ban older diesel cars.

A ban is due to take effect in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, from February. The city of Hamburg this year voluntarily blocked diesel models that fail to meet the Euro-6 emissions standard from selected trunk roads.

Cars are seen at Leipziger Strasse street, which could be affected by a court hearing on case seeking diesel cars ban in Berlin, Germany, October 8, 2018. The word reads 'air pollution monitoring.' REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch