In order to improve air quality in Stuttgart, capital of Baden-Württemberg state, there will be driving bans for many diesel vehicles from 2018 onwards. On Tuesday, the state cabinet moved to forbid diesel cars from many streets starting next year, whenever high levels of soot particles are measured and the city has to proclaim a “pollution alarm”. This could result in driving bans for tens of thousands of cars for days on end.
The irony: Stuttgart is home to automotive giants Daimler, Porsche and Bosch, and the only major city in Germany ruled by the Green Party. Yet the state capital is now Germany’s first city to ban older diesel vehicles that do not meet the Euro 6 standards for exhaust emissions. According to the city of Stuttgart, this would affect 73,000 of 107,000 licensed diesel vehicles.
Both particulate pollution and nitrogen oxides measured in Stuttgart are much higher than in other cities around the country. This year alone, an “pollution alarm” was already proclaimed over 30 days. Particulate pollution crossed the threshold set by the European Union on 63 days last year. Anything more than 35 days is considered harmful to people’s health.
The pollution problem is not new, but it’s more relevant for the city than ever: German environmental group DUH recently started suing cities that violate the E.U. standards’ on contaminated air.
Daniel Tost is an editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: tost@