A Stuttgart administrative court ruled on July 28 that authorities will have the right to impose an outright ban on diesel vehicles; presiding judge Wolfgang Kern and his colleagues called for urgent action, such as the introduction of a so-called “Blue Placard” which would effectively amount to driving bans for a part of vehicles in the city.

The lawsuit filed by the non-governmental environmental and consumer protection organization Environmental Action Germany (DUH)  against the state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg, stated that measures to lower air pollution in its capital Stuttgart were insufficient. DUH  had sought a ban on such vehicles as  legal thresholds for nitrogen oxide levels had been regularly surpassed in areas affected by traffic congestion for years, following the decision by city policymakers of a less radical strategy to combat urban air pollution back in 2015. The DUH has also filed similar lawsuits in Dusseldorf, Aachen, Bonn and Cologne. North Rhine-Westphalia has referred a case to the Federal Administrative Court with the organization’s consent in order to determine whether municipal governments are legally entitled to impose bans on diesel cars.

The administrative court decided that  the protection of the  health of citizens in the hometown of carmakers Mercedes-Benz and Porsche over the rights and freedom of action enjoyed by owners of diesel cars. Several cities in Germany, including Munich, are currently considering bans following revelations that their air pollution levels were in breach of EU limits. German carmakers are at the center of an ongoing international scandal in which they stand accused of having installed illegal software in diesel vehicles to falsify emissions levels during test settings. Just two day before on July 26, 2017 three Californian communities  San Mateo and Marin Counties, coastal communities in northern California, and Imperial Beach, a city in San Diego County, have filed complaints against 37 “carbon majors”, including Shell, Chevron, Statoil, Exxon and Total, seeking compensation for the current and future costs of adapting to sea level rises linked to climate change. They claim greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuel companies’ activities over the last 50 years have locked in substantial sea level rises, which will cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage to properties and businesses, as well as endangering lives.

On August 2, the German government will hold a “diesel summit” with the representatives of the German automotive industry in order to discuss how to lower nitrogen oxide pollution caused by traffic. Although manufacturers including Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have announced their intention to recall and upgrade millions of vehicles, Barbara Hendricks, the German Minister for the Environment, warned that the car industry was at a “turning point” and outright diesel bans were still on the table.