The German Federal Administrative Court issued a ruling earlier this week that may help clear pollution in some of Germany’s most populous cities.
The court ruled that cities can choose to ban drivers from using some cars that generate high diesel pollution in order to restrain the amount of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air, according to NPR.
Not all cars can be banned, according to the court’s ruling. Older vehicles with greater emissions should be prioritized, the court clarified, but cities will be left to themselves to decide the specifics of their bans.
Earlier this year, Environmental Action Germany filed lawsuit against two German cities, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, for exceeding limits set by the European Union. With the court’s ruling, the two cities can both impose diesel bans. Both cities have struggled to keep emissions down in the past. Stuttgart has twice exceeded the legal particulate levels, according to NPR. Other cities can impose similar bans after exhausting other solutions as well.
Germany is one of nine countries in the European Union who were summoned earlier this year to Brussels to explain why they have failed to enforce maximum levels set by the international body, according to Deutsche Well.
The EU may choose to enforce fines on violating countries, including Germany, to encourage stricter obedience to the air pollution levels. 40 percent of air pollution in the European Union comes from vehicular emissions, according to a 2013 report from the European Environmental Agency.
Volkswagen issued a statement following the ruling saying they could agree to follow the ruling, but are “unable to comprehend it,” according to the New York Times.
Volkswagen has been embroiled in a scandal that began in Sept. 2015, when U.S. officials announced the company had installed devices on the cars that would manipulate their diesel emissions ratings during tests, obscuring and minimizing the amount of diesel pollution emitted by each car.
The scandal has embroiled the German auto industry, spanning more than two years and multiple manufacturers, according to Clean Energy Wire.
Germany is not the only place in the EU looking for bans on diesel engines to lower its air pollution levels. Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome, announced on Wednesday that Rome will ban diesel cars entirely by 2024 in order to minimize air pollution and protect ancient artifacts located within the city, according to The Independent.
Milan officials have also made promises to get diesel cars off the road by 2030, according to The Independent.