Current lawsuits against NO2 pollution
Who is filing lawsuits?
In Germany, several cities have been sued because the annual medium limit values for nitrogen oxide has been exceeded. Many lawsuits come from the German Association for the Environment (DUH – Deutsche Umwelthilfe), which is a non-governmental environmental and consumer protection organization. At the end of 2017, the DUH carried out more than a dozen lawsuits against cities.
In addition to the DUH, the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD - German Transport Club) has also filed lawsuits against several municipalities. For example, both organizations cooperated in the lawsuit against the city of Munich, which was already decided in 2016. The VCD is a non-profit, registered association that advocates a sustainable, environmentally-friendly transport policy.
Who is being sued?
There are currently ongoing cases against more than a dozen cities, including Berlin, Hanover and Cologne. In addition, three cities have already been successfully sued for revising their Clean Air Plans: Munich, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart.
In addition, the German magazine Spiegel Online published in August 2017 a long list of over 30 municipalities, which were targeted by the DUH.
Ongoing lawsuits against nitrogen oxide pollution
In December 2015, the Berlin Administrative Court decided that on the federal highway 2 in Berlin-Weißensee, the maximum speed limit was set to 30 km/h on a 900 meter long section. A local resident had filed a lawsuit against the high concentration of nitrogen oxide and obtained this decision.
A year later, the DUH won a case against the city of Düsseldorf for exceeding the air quality values, which afterwards should have introduced diesel driving bans and develop an additional sign.
In 2017, another landmark decision followed, as the Stuttgart Administrative Court recommended the introduction of diesel driving bans for air pollution control. However, both decisions were brought before the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig for revision and finally decided in February 2018.
The court also ordered Munich to revise their Clean Air Plan. However, as the city still planned no diesel driving bans, penalty payments were imposed several times.
Action before the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig
On 27.02.2018, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig decided that diesel driving bans were legally applicable and thus, obliged the cities mentioned above to comply with the court’s requests and introduce diesel driving bans. On a national level, it is now being considered to include these measures in the Clean Air Plans, as it is clear that the DUH can win more lawsuits. For this reason, the federal government also intervenes in order to find a common national solution that could be the Blue Badge.
The Blue Badge for Diesel Restriction Zones
In Germany, the Blue Badge might be introduced in 2018. It is required to access diesel restriction zones.
In 2018, cities and communities will introduce driving restrictions for various EURO classes of diesel vehicles. Therefore, the Blue Badge becomes a need in order to distinguish older diesel vehicles and EURO classes as well as petrol vehicles without particle filter from vehicles with a lower emission of pollutants.
Vehicles which should get a Blue Badge
General information about diesel restriction zones and implementation.
Possible cities and municipalities for diesel restriction zones