Hamburg, a port city in northern Germany, was forced to outline how it would improve its air quality after being sued by a resident and an environmental group.
So starting Thursday, all diesel vehicles without the latest so-called Euro 6 technology will be prohibited from driving through a stretch along Max-Brauer-Allee in the Altona area in the center of town, and trucks without the newest technology will not be allowed on a portion of a nearby highway known as Stresemannstrasse. The two streets were chosen because emissions from traffic tended to accumulate there, as a result of relatively little open space and wind passing through.
In the early weeks of the ban, the police are planning to hand out warnings to offending motorists, a police spokesman said on Thursday. Eventually, though, they will actively check vehicles by inspecting individual registration papers and hand out fines of 20 euros, or $23, to car drivers and €75 to truck drivers found to be in contravention of the rules.
The ban, though limited in scope, has been seen as an important first step to making similar restrictions more widespread across Germany, where the presence of a huge auto industry has made moves toward such measures more difficult. If the move is shown to improve air quality, other cities could use it as evidence to support their own policies.
“Cities will look at this kind of thing and say, ‘Yes, we’ve got data to show it works,’” said Peter Wells, a professor at Cardiff Business School in Wales who focuses on the auto industry. “If it’s replicated and it’s expanded, it becomes a huge issue.”