German government decries diesel car emissions

Berlin is one of the cities that will fail to meet nitrogen oxide emission standards by 2020. [Davis Staedtler/Flickr]

Germany has been in the EU’s bad books for a while now over its high urban nitrogen dioxide levels. In the midst of the Volkswagen scandal, Berlin puts the blame squarely on new diesel-powered cars emissions. EURACTIV Germany reports.

According to a newspaper report, the German government has complained internally to the European Commission about the nitrogen oxide emissions of new diesel cars, which it finds “far too high”.

The issue of nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars is currently in the limelight due to the Volkswagen scandal in the USA. Nitrogen oxide can cause serious respiratory problems.

>>Read: Respiratory diseases among the EU’s biggest killers

On Tuesday (22 September) the federal government’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, told Bild that VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn had assured him that there has been no manipulation of emission figures in Germany.

The actual average nitrogen oxide emissions from new Euro 6 diesel cars, currently on the market, are markedly higher than the required limit of 80 mg per kilometre, according to the Funke Mediengruppe on Tuesday (22 September), citing a German government statement.

On the contrary, measurements have shown that new car emissions are closer to the 500 mg per kilometre mark, according to the document sent to the Commission.

That would mean emissions that are six times over the limit set by new diesel car emission-standards, which were launched in September. The German government has stated that this is the reason why it will be unable to comply with EU air pollution regulations in the next year.

In the midst of the criticism, Berlin has defended itself against the Commission’s rebukes, according to reports. In June, the Commission notified Germany, in a written warning, that 29 cities and regions would fail to meet EU standards on nitrogen oxide emissions before 2020, including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. Consequently, the Commission called for a ban on diesel cars in certain cities and regions and for a tax increase on the vehicles.

The written warning is reported to be part of an infringement procedure, which could lead to the Commission taking formal action against Germany. Funke Medien adds that the federal government has responded to and dismissed the accusation that it has taken insufficient measures.

Berlin has made it clear that it had hoped for “broad and rapid market penetration” by Euro 6 diesel cars. The fact that these cars have reportedly produced more emissions than expected, above the required limits, has made things extremely difficult.

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