‘Diesel bans’ should be in force in no less than seven German cities by the first half of next year. They follow measures introduced in Paris and Oslo in 2017, while London will see the introduction of its Ultra-Low Emissions Zone from April 8, 2019, which targets both gasoline and diesel use.
However, despite widespread use in the media, the term ‘ban’ is a misnomer. These regulations do not ban diesel and their impact on oil product demand will be very limited. They are restrictions on the use of older diesel engines, and they often apply to specific routes rather than being city-wide, as in Germany, or come into force only when air pollution breaches set standards, as in Oslo.
They should also not be confused with proposed bans of new sales of internal combustion engines, where the timescale for implementation is much further off. These proposals will depend on alternative modes of road transport being economically viable at that time.
What is significant is the driving force behind these regulations. It is not climate change but air pollution.
When taken in combination, a clear regulatory pincer movement is developing. At the front end, the immediate policy offensive is driven by urban air pollution as a consequence of ever greater use of internal combustion engines and urbanisation. Further out, the motivator is the potential harmful effects of climate change.
The primary impact will be on the…