German Court Rules That Cities Can Limit Diesels to Cut Pollution

The nation that pioneered diesels is increasingly hostile to their use.

Getty Images / Peter Dazeley

A court in Germany has ruled that the cities of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf can ban older diesel vehicles as a means of reducing pollution. The ruling by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig paves the way for other German cities to ban oil burners. The case was brought by the environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe.

The BBC pointed out that about 70 German cities exceeded nitrogen oxide limits set by the European Union last year. "The likelihood now is that the German government will rush to introduce some sort of national policy, to ensure at least some level of consistency across the country," the news organization opined.

The ruling affects diesels sold through 2009, though Car and Driver notes that restrictions on oil-burning vehicles sold up until 2014 could follow. If that happens, most of the more than 15 million diesel vehicles registered in Germany would be effected, the magazine reports. About one third of all vehicles in Western Europe's most populous nation are diesel.

The first oil burning engines were developed in Germany by Rudolf Diesel in the 1890s. But much of the recent diesel news from Deutschland has been bleak.

Stock prices for Volkswagen AG, Daimler, and BMW came under pressure after the court decision Tuesday, though the impact was dwarfed days later by concern over a global trade war sparked by President Trump's vow to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum, which depressed markets worldwide.