In response to worsening air pollution problems in many of Europe’s largest cities, Barcelona (Spain) and Munich (Germany) have been moved to action. In Barcelona’s case, voluntarily, and in Munich’s case, as the result of a court order.
To be more specific, Barcelona will begin banning cars older than 20 years in 2019, and Munich was ordered by Bavaria’s highest administrative court that the state and city to develop “clean air” plans that will include diesel car bans when necessary) by the end of 2017.
The court order in Munich follows legal action taken by Transport and Environment’s German member DUH to force action on Bavaria’s breaching of EU air pollution limits in some locations.
DUH director Jürgen Resch commented: “This decision means that from 2018 there will be bans on diesel cars in Munich.”
As did Gerd Lottsiepen, of T&E’s other German member organization, VCD: “No-one wants driving bans, but they’re the option of last resort that must now be brought into play because the car companies have failed to cut NO2 sufficiently.”
Notably, there is currently a national lawsuit in the works in Germany that will rule on whether or not the ban of certain categories of cars is legal within the country’s road traffic rules.
Transport and Environment provides more on the situation in Barcelona: “The decision to ban older cars in Barcelona is not specifically aimed at diesels but will clearly affect diesels. The measure — a joint initiative between the city, municipalities on the edge of Barcelona, and the state of Catalunya — will make it illegal on working days to drive cars bought before January 1997 and vans bought before October 1994.”
“Barcelona suffers from air quality that breaches World Health Organisation guidelines. Although the ban on older cars does not come into effect until January 2019, if there are periods of high air pollution in 2018, the older cars can be temporarily banned. The city says around 7% of cars and 16% of vans in Catalunya will be affected.”
That’s a pretty high figure, so it’ll be interesting to see what the pushback is like.
The city’s “neighbor,” Madrid, has moved to work towards a total ban of diesel cars by 2025 it should be remembered — perhaps Barcelona will follow suit at some point? Mexico City, Paris, and Athens have also pledged to ban diesel cars by 2025.