BERLIN (Reuters) - German cities will call on the government to immediately release 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of promised funding to cut diesel pollution and help them avert a potential ban on diesel vehicles.
Pressure is growing on Germany to enforce Clean Air limits introduced in the European Union in 2010. Ninety cities, including Berlin and Munich, could face penalties for having nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in excess of the permitted limits, according to the DUH environmental lobby.
German municipalities and states are meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel and cabinet ministers for second "diesel summit" on Tuesday. Just before a September election, Merkel's government announced it would double funding allocated to curbing excess NO2 levels, but nearly three months later the intended recipients are still waiting.
"I hope we will today agree on an immediate-action program," Gerd Landsberg, head of Germany's association of municipalities (DStGB), told ARD television.
"The funds have to be released now. We cannot wait on and on," he said.
Environmentalists have criticized the meeting for including neither the DUH nor carmakers.
Auto manufacturers including VW, Daimler and BMW pledged in August to overhaul the emissions-control software on 5.3 million diesel cars and to contribute about 250 million euros toward the 1 billion euros, steps dismissed as insufficient by the DUH.
The 1 billion euros of pledged support will not suffice to finance more long-term structural steps, such as digital tools to improve traffic management, infrastructure for electric cars and public transport expansion, said Landsberg.
"Ultimately we need broad changes in transport policy, it will not be possible to organize this with the 1 billion (euros)," he told ARD.
"But it would be a signal, also for the courts, that something is happening to reduce the nitrogen oxide emissions."
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)