The European Union’s high court ruled on Thursday that Germany “consistently and persistently” exceeded limits for nitrogen dioxide, a noxious gas produced by diesel engines, in many regions between 2010 and 2016.
The European Court of Justice blamed Germany for exceeding the annual NO2 limits in 26 of the 89 areas assessed, including the areas of Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Munich, and Stuttgart. It found that time limits were also exceeded in Stuttgart and the Rhine-Main area, which includes Frankfurt.
The court, which was acting on a lawsuit filed by the EU Executive Commission in 2018, also said Germany failed to ensure that air quality plans provide for measures to maintain periods in which NO2 limits were exceeded. as short as possible.
More recently, many German cities have introduced partial bans on older diesel cars in areas or even individual streets where emissions are particularly high. It was not immediately clear whether Thursday’s ruling would have practical consequences, although in principle it could lead to more such restrictions for diesel cars.
However, official figures show that air quality in Germany has improved since 2016.
A study published by Germany’s Federal Office for the Environment three years ago found that nearly 6,000 people died prematurely in 2014 from diseases known to be caused or aggravated by NO2. He compared deaths from diabetes, asthma, and other diseases to emissions records in cities and the countryside.