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Sweden gives green light for cities to ban old diesel cars

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Sweden gives green light for cities to ban old diesel cars
File photo of a car in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
07:54 CEST+02:00
Sweden's towns will soon be allowed to ban old diesel engines from their town centres in an effort to improve the environment and combat air pollution, the government announced on Friday.

Sweden's centre-left Social Democrat-Green coalition government did not impose such rules itself, but left the decision up to local authorities.

From the start of year 2020, cities and municipalities will be allowed to create environmental zones regulating the cars in the zones. Diesel cars meeting the emission standards of Euro 5 and Euro 6 will be permitted in the zones, but from July 1st 2022 only Euro 6 diesel cars will be allowed.

Cars running on petrol will be allowed in the zones if they meet the Euro 5 emission standards.

The EU's emission standards Euro 5 and Euro 6 came into force on September 1st 2009 and September 1st 2014, respectively. The new rules therefore affect cars older than that.

In Sweden around 1.3 diesel cars would be affected by the new rules, reports the TT newswire. In Stockholm alone around 50,000 car owners would be squeezed out, according to official estimates.

Councils will also be allowed to create a separate category of even more tightly regulated zones allowing access only to electric cars, fuel cell vehicles and cars running on Euro 6 natural gas.

However, the decision for imposing the environmental zones is left up to local authorities. The ruling parties in Malmö are against it; in Gothenburg even parties on the same side are split.

"Our air is so clean we don't think we need it," said Malmö councillor Andreas Schönström.

In Stockholm, opinion on whether to go ahead with environmental zones as early as 2022 is divided, and even then is likely it would only affect certain streets, not the entire city centre.

In any case, Sweden is not the only country to propose such rules amid a raging debate about diesel engines. In Germany, a top court ruled last month that cities can impose diesel driving bans.

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