Are the diesel bans in Germany necessary?

05 March 2019

Are the diesel bans in Germany necessary?

5 March 2019

Cameron Roberts           

Germany’s wide ranging diesel bans are set to come into force throughout this year but the EU has given the German Government the power to repeal several already agreed upon bans. Moreover, the German Government is actively working to step back from banning diesels and major cities within Germany seem content to pay fines rather than enact bans. These cities include Düsseldorf and Munich, two of the country’s top 5 polluting cities.

While developments are debated elsewhere, Frankfurt’s own bans have been halted, with the reasons for instating the ban in the first place being ‘insufficient’. This ultimately raises the question as to whether the German Government and the cities involved are even still in favour of the bans. Moreover, are the bans themselves even necessary?

Other solutions seem to be presenting themselves to solve Germany’s pollution crisis. These include: an emerging EV market, cleaner public transport (a solution which has seen Frankfurt’s emissions drop in recent months) and a retrofitting scheme to make older diesels more environmentally friendly.

Germany also remains an anomaly among the EU5, with sales of new diesel cars growing by 2.1% in January. With new techniques for OEMs allowing for lower emissions diesels, is a ban on the fuel in German cities even future-proof? Aside from the new diesels being cleaner, the growth in sales clearly demonstrates that consumers still see it as viable option. Although registrations were boosted by the easing of WLTP-induced supply constraints, the question still remains as to whether there is a lack of faith in the diesel bans coming to fruition or if there is renewed acceptance of diesel.

It’s very easy to just blanket ban diesel as it’s traditionally been the higher polluting fuel. It also makes a great scapegoat for environmentalists, but looking at the facts might tell a different story. Alongside this, there are more popular and perhaps more subtle ways of bringing pollution down in Germany.