Merkel wants to pass new legislation to prevent diesel driving bans in Germany

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-22 23:00:29|Editor: yan
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BERLIN, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to pass legislation to prevent the widespread imposition of diesel driving bans in German cities, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader announced on Sunday night.

Speaking to press following a CDU leadership conference, Merkel said that her party considered outright bans on diesel vehicles to be a disproportionate means to improve urban air quality in cases where regulatory limits for Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollution where only breached to a limited degree. The CDU would instead advocate for a change to relevant laws in a way which re-directed policy efforts towards other, less radical, solutions.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has previously estimated that diesel cars are responsible for more than 50 percent of harmful NOx emissions in Germany. Diesel drivers in the country currently face the prospect of being barred from major cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Hamburg after local administrative courts ordered them to do so as a last resort to ensure compliance with European Union (EU) clean air legislation.

In response, the ruling "grand coalition" of the CDU, Christian Social Union (CSU) and German Social Democrats (SPD) has recently unveiled a new "dieselgate" policy package aimed at preventing looming driving bans in 14 cities with fleet renewal incentives and technical retrofitting, so-called "hardware upgrades", of vehicles.

NOx levels exceed binding limits set in EU clean air legislation in dozens of German cities, prompting the European Commission to file an ongoing lawsuit against the federal government in Berlin at the European Court of Justice.

According to Merkel, however, NOx pollution is only slightly above the regulatory threshold in 51 of the urban areas in question and could hence be effectively combatted without requiring driving bans. The chancellor cited the example of Frankfurt as a city in which other measures would suffice to alleviate the situation and where she was confident that a court-ordered driving ban would ultimately be overturned.

Merkel emphasized that she stood at the side of motorists in the ongoing scandal surrounding the installation of illicit defeat devices by carmakers in diesel vehicles to understate their NOx emissions levels.

"The automotive industry has truly destroyed trust to a massive extent and hence it must also make a contribution to restoring this trust again", Merkel told press. This meant that diesel owners could not suffer any personal financial damage as a consequence of emissions-cheating practices.