ClientEarth in legal action over air quality in 11 German cities

Environmental campaign group ClientEarth is involved in fresh legal action against 11 German cities over failure to meet air pollution limits.

The cases are being brought by the law charity and German consumer organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), follow on from a successful challenge by the two organisations in Germany’s national court last month over diesel bans in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf (see story).

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig

Legal cases were launched last week against the cities of Backnang, Esslingen, Heilbronn, Ludwigsburg, Marbach, Reutlingen, Offenbach, Bochum, Dortmund, Düren and Paderborn.

These follow additional cases launched by the two organisations in Berlin, Bonn, Darmstadt, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Halle, Hannover, Kiel, Köln, Limburg, Mainz, Munich, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden.

The two groups are calling on the cities to implement measures to bring air pollution within legal limits in the soonest possible timeframe — including potentially considering bans on diesel vehicles in some instances.

Legal duty

Commenting on the action, ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton, said: “The Federal Administrative Court’s ruling was unambiguous — German authorities have the power and the duty to restrict diesel to comply with air pollution law. Prolonging the inevitable is a breach of authorities’ legal duty to protect the people of Germany against harmful air pollution.

“Politicians must put people’s health first. Germany’s highest court has cleared the way for diesel restrictions. It’s time to stop pandering to industry, and start fighting for people instead.”

DUH chief executive, Jürgen Resch said: “How can it be that politicians at regional and national level are still failing to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are still breathing dirty air? Legal limits have been exceeded since 2010, but protests, complaints from citizens, EU legal action against Germany and the judgment from Germany’s own highest court, are all being ignored to cushion the diesel industry — at the cost of the health of countless people.

“We call on all those responsible for air quality in these 28 towns with illegal pollution to adopt all possible measures to ensure air quality complies with legal limits by Autumn 2018. If not, further legal action will follow this year.”

ClientEarth has previously led successful actions against the UK’s government’s air quality plans, including a recent case, which saw the government forced to widen the scope of its July 2017 plan, to include 33 additional authorities (see story).


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