Stuttgart to ban diesels as London launches ‘toxicity charge’

February 23, 2017

Stuttgart, home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, is to ban diesel cars that do not meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards on days when pollution is heavy. 

If the proposal goes ahead next year, it could cause a major shift in car usage as only around 10% of diesel cars in use on German roads at the start of 2016 conformed with the Euro 6 standard. Particulate emissions exceed EU thresholds in at least 90 German towns including Stuttgart – which is especially affected because it resides in a valley. 

However, Stuttgart is not the only city set to restrict the use of diesels. Drivers of older diesel cars entering the centre of London will have to pay a £10 (€11.80) ‘toxicity charge’, in addition to the current £11.50 (€13.60) congestion charge, from October. 

The cars affected are those that do not meet Euro 4 emissions standards, which includes diesel vehicles registered before 2006. The scheme will operate at the same times as the congestion charge - between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday-Friday and is expected to impact up to 10,000 vehicles each weekday. 

The move by London mayor Sadiq Khan is intended to improve toxic air pollution levels, which are responsible for 9000 premature deaths a year in the capital. 

The UK capital broke its annual limit for nitrogen dioxide on one road just five days into 2017, according to the capital’s own air quality monitoring system. The UK has broken EU air quality regulations every year since 2010. In January, the mayor issued for the first time a ‘very high’ pollution warning, which warns Londoners they may need to limit strenuous activity, even if they are very fit. The European Commission gave the UK a two month warning last week to comply with EU air pollution limits or risk a heavy fine. 

London’s toxicity charge comes as European and world cities become increasingly hostile to diesel vehicles, with Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City pledging to ban diesel vehicles from 2025. France has introduced a Disque Vert (Green Disc) system in 23 cities including Bordeaux, Orleans, Avignon and Reims, which allows up to two hours of free parking for electric cars. Paris is also restricting bands of dirty vehicles through its Crit’Air disc system, which applies within the périphérique ring road. All light vehicles (cars and light commercial vehicles) registered before 1 January 1997 are no longer permitted within the area between 8am and 8pm on weekdays. This ban will be extended to vehicles with a grey vignette, i.e. diesels only conforming to the Euro 2 standard, from 1 July at the latest.

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