Factsheet: diesel bans in German cities


Following a court ruling in early 2018, the slow death of the diesel engine in Germany is bound to accelerate.

  • In February 2018, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig declared diesel driving bans in German cities to be legally possible. Specifically, it treated the air pollution control plans of Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, but the ruling is groundbreaking.
  • Hamburg was the first city to issue driving bans: Since the end of May 2018, older diesel cars and trucks have been banned on two road sections in the Altona district.
  • Since January 2019, older diesel cars have been banned from driving in the entire clean air zone in Stuttgart. This is the first large-scale driving ban in a German city. There are a number of exceptions, including for residents and businesses.
  • Further driving bans are to follow in 2019. In Essen, for the first time, there will also be a driving ban for a motorway, the A40 in the city area.
  • The driving bans are based on complaints by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), a German environmental protection organisation, in a number of cities. For years, EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have not been respected there. Diesel cars are a major source of NO2 in traffic.
  • A dispute has flared up over the EU regulations. A group of lung doctors said there was no scientific justification for such low NO2 pollution targets. Many colleagues disagreed. Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) has called on the EU Commission to review the limits.


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