Swiss citizens are calling on their government to more quickly require stricter anti-pollution tests for diesel cars. Some 7,200 people submitted a petition to the Federal Chancellery on Tuesday.
The petition, also supported by various environmental and consumer lobby groups, asks Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard to ensure that new diesel cars only be allowed on the road if they “strictly conform” to the Euro-6d-TEMP emissions standard. In Germany, newly certified diesel cars must adhere to that standard starting next month.
As pointed out in the petition, the standard currently only applies to new models of diesel cars put on the Swiss market after September 1, 2018.
“In addition, all new diesel cars already on the market in Switzerland don’t have to conform to that standard until after a transitional period of two years,” read the written request.
The petition also calls for existing diesel cars to be retrofitted with an anti-pollution system meeting the same standard.
The Euro-6d-TEMP standard requires both a benchmark exhaust measurement and a so-called RDE or Real Driving Emission measurement carried out in realistic traffic conditions. The standard allows maximum emissions of 168 milligrams of the pollutant nitric oxide per kilometre driven using the RDE testing method.
Many countries made plans to adopt the standard following a 2015 worldwide scandal over falsified emissions tests on diesel cars produced by German car manufacturer Volkswagen, after which Switzerland became the first country to ban the sale of new diesel cars from VW.
Necessary transition period?
In the petition filed on Tuesday, parliamentarian Evi Allemann of the left-wing Social Democrats called the delayed implementation of the Euro-6d-TEMP standard in Switzerland a “farce”. She had submitted a motion to parliament in June to the same effect as the petition, but Switzerland’s cabinet rejected the request last week citing a disservice to the country’s auto industry with little guarantee of improved air quality.
In addition, the cabinet argued, Switzerland needs to come to an international agreement over emissions standards or vehicles manufactured abroad not subject to the Euro-6d-TEMP will be free to continue driving on Swiss roads.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Swiss association of auto importers “vehemently” rejected the terms of the petition, arguing that the introduction of new standards and technologies always require a transition period.
Less interest in diesel
After a period of rapid growth beginning about 15 years ago, interest in diesel cars in Switzerland has begun to stagnate. The VW emissions scandal and ensuing stricter policies regarding diesel cars in neighbouring countries have made drivers worried about the re-sale value of such vehicles, Yves Gerber, spokesman for the automobile association Touring Club Suisse, recently told swissinfo.ch.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/vdv