Environment / News

Copenhagen Cracks Down on Diesel Cars

2013-08-27 16.45.30

Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs is spearheading a new law to drastically reduce the number of diesel cars on Danish roads

Tom Turula

In January, Oslo started a new trend in Europe when it introduced temporary bans for diesel cars in bad weather conditions. Stüttgart later followed suit, and now another Scandinavian capital, Copenhagen, is nearing its own version of a diesel ban – that could be more than temporary.

Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, Morten Kabell, is spearheading a law proposal in order to drastically reduce the number of diesel cars on Danish roads. He points to the approximately 540 people who die prematurely due to carbon monoxide pollution every year.

“It’s an insult to them and their families that they’ve had to live [with diesel cars] and that they die prematurely,” Kabell told Danish channel TV2.

Kabell’s new law proposal requires vehicles in Copenhagen to fulfill the emission standard EU5, which corresponds to vehicles from 2011-2012.

“We want a clean air zone, like in all other major European cities”, says Kabell.


Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs: Morten Kabell

It’s not the first time Kabell has proposed banning diesel cars. However, this time he is backed by a broad red-green coalition. In order to become reality, the proposal needs to pass in the Danish parliament.

More than half of Danish cars are still diesel-compatible, according to Aftonbladet, and critics claim a ban could provide a stunning blow to private households’ finances. The Danish car association claims that newly built diesel cars are becoming cleaner every year.

Outlawing dirty vehicles could soon be mainstream across continent, with many European cities including Athens, Madrid and Paris signed up for diesel vehicle bans by 2025. In Europe, an estimated 7,000 people die prematurely every year due to carbon monoxide emissions, according to Swedish broadcaster SVT.

But currently the Nordics seem to be taking the lead for clean inner city air. Oslo’s temporary ban was partly a result of the city’s topography. Surrounded by an ocean bay and mountains, warm air can “put a lid” on the city, which means emissions become trapped in low altitudes.  Oslo’s ban currently comes into effect if the city experiences “bad weather” two days in a row (with the exception of some newer EU6 vehicles).

Tom Turula is a journalist for Business Insider‘s Nordic edition

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