9 points for cleaner air in cities and metropolitan areas

#Dieselgate is reaching the political scene. It is, in many ways, remarkable what members of the German government are stating now, about two weeks after the manipulation of the software in VW diesel cars has become public.

Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel, has been quoted as saying that he supports a quota and incentives “of any kind”. 

Likewise, German Minister for Environment, Barbara Hendricks, spoke of her ideas on traffic following Dieselgate. In particular, she supports an act about the testing of RDE (Real Driving Emissions) by the EU commission, plus financial incentives for EVs.

However, one might doubt that these ideas have been discussed intensively within the German government. The Ministry of Finance already declared that financial incentives could be problematic due to bandwagoning effects. 

The speaker of the German government, Steffen Seibert, said on October 14th that there will be a solution till the end of the year on how to support e-mobility. We will see what happens, though, the ideas are pretty interesting to read.

‘Barbara Hendricks’ 9 points’ at a glance:

1. VW has to ensure that affected vehicles will be corrected, and that consumers will not be left out of pocket when it comes to fixing the software issue.

2. The details of the new measurement process RDE (Real Driving Emissions) have to be passed. The EU-Commission presented a preliminary draft on October 6th 2015. This includes an overstepping of real emissions of only 1/6-times higher than the limit value from the year 2017 onwards, and an overstepping of only 1/2-times higher from 2019. 

3. The European Automotive Industry has put a lot of pressure on the process of regulation. That has to be solved in future, because no one can elude the protection of the environment forever. This includes every industrial sector: the automotive industry, the energy industry and the agriculture industry.

4. As well as improving emission-controls of vehicles, there will have to be independent controls to ensure that the vehicles were built correctly and maintain the limit values of emissions. The costs of these control systems will have to be paid for by the manufacturers.

5. Diesel technology is more efficient than the Otto engine, but has only a future in combination with the climate protection targets, when the industry proves the possibility of clean diesel engines in passenger cars, SUV and several other types of vehicles.

6. The Minister supports tax incentives for EVs, as well as an obligated quote for them in combination with a state subsidy.

7. The Minister pleads for an improvement of the conditions of pedestrians and cyclists as well as for the system of public transportation. In addition, she supports the use of hybrid buses in accordance with the initiative of climate protection of her ministry. For the first time, bicycle traffic gets supported as well. 

8. Hendricks encourages municipalities to implement restrictions of driving in special zones to ensure low levels of nitrogen oxide emission in cities. Talks will be held if there are regulations to be changed to ensure clean air. 

9. The Minister recommends an expansion of air monitoring, to not only focus on the air pollution by traffic, but also the effects on agriculture and ammonia emission. Furthermore, she is currently working on the Technical Instruction Air (TA Luft), which targets a reduction of pollutant emissions and regulates the amount of air pollution.