The new year has dawned in Germany with a new green drive against dirty, inefficient cars. Old smokers are to be banished from town centres to protect the environment. Vehicles must carry red, orange or green stickers depending on how clean they are. Germany is a car-mad country, but not every vehicle sports state-of-the-art engine technology. The scheme was first introduced in Berlin and Hannover in 2008, and in just two years those cities claim black carbon emissions have fallen by 16 per cent.
“In Berlin and Hannover, only vehicles with a green badge can enter the environmental zones,” said German Environment Aid director Juergen Resch. “Vehicles without a particulate filter sometimes produce 100 times more pollution than those qualifying for a green badge. So, with dirty cars banned, we expect a big improvement in air quality.”
But not everybody is convinced. The German Automobile Club says there’s no scientific proof of the effectiveness of such schemes, and people’s mobility will be restricted if they are forced to park and use public transport:
“What is happening in Berlin and Hannover is pure chicanery, because traffic is only a small part of the particulate problem,” said the club’s Klaus Reindl. “If I don’t have the right to enter Berlin or Hannover without a green badge, it’s like an attack on my liberty.”
The badges cost five euros and can be ordered online. But it’s not just local cars which are affected: foreigners must also display a sticker or keep out of Germany’s increasingly green city centres.