A German court Thursday ordered Cologne and Bonn to join a slew of cities in banning older diesels from its roads to combat air pollution, as the government struggled to reach a deal with carmakers on cleaning up the cars.
In the smaller city of Bonn, the restrictions would apply to two streets.
The ruling, which can be appealed, is the latest victory for German environmental group DUH which has launched a raft of court cases to force local authorities to boost air quality.
Major urban areas including Stuttgart, Frankfurt and the capital Berlin have already been slapped with legal orders to cut emissions, while Hamburg decided of its own accord to expel the worst polluters from some zones.
Faced with mounting public anger, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is scrambling to ward off the unpopular driving bans that promise to not only cause transport upheaval but further hammer the resale value of diesels.
Diesel engines have come under intense scrutiny since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to installing cheating software in millions of cars to dupe emissions tests.
The scam made the cars seem far less polluting in labs than they were on the road, and suspicions of similar trickery have since spread to other carmakers as well.
But the country's mighty car giants have been stubborn in their refusal to foot the bill for cleaning up diesels in order to bring them into compliance with EU law.
But carmakers have so far responded mainly by offering software upgrades for newer diesels and trade-in bonuses -- which would still leave drivers shelling out thousands for new cars.
Merkel is also backing a proposed law that would exempt cities from diesel bans when only "minor" infractions against legal pollution limits have been registered.
A total of 65 German cities last year recorded NO2 levels that surpassed European norms of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre of air.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the gases aggravate asthma and bronchitis symptoms and are linked to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)