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Clearing the air after “dieselgate”: Time for European regulators to experiment with participatory governance

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-242
Number of pages6
JournalGeographical Journal
Volume185
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2019
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Dec 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - 3 Feb 2019

Abstract

Since it erupted in 2015, the so‐called “dieselgate” scandal has revealed severe shortcomings in car manufacturers’ efforts to reduce the impacts of driving on both global climate change and local air quality. In the European Union context, this controversy has raised questions about the trustworthiness of carmakers, and about the accuracy of the emissions measurements upon which key regulation is currently based. Just as importantly, however, it has also precipitated growing tensions between regulatory authorities situated in municipalities, national governments, and Brussels itself. Thus, even as European lawmakers have responded to the scandal by seeking to revamp and tighten up official “laboratory” vehicle emissions tests, growing citizen concern about the impact of vehicles on urban air quality is already having significant impacts across a multitude of European cities. Municipal authorities in Germany, for example – including in Stuttgart, the hometown of several major carmakers – have recently been compelled by court rulings to introduce outright bans on many older models of diesel vehicle, following legal challenges brought by environmental groups. That such bans have been upheld in Germany's highest court despite opposition from both state and federal governments underlines the need to view dieselgate as a knowledge controversy with distinctly geopolitical dimensions. In this commentary, we contend that questions about the accuracy of vehicle emissions measurements cannot be separated from geopolitical and scalar tensions over regulatory authority. Far from seeing such complexity as a barrier to the effective “closure” of the dieselgate scandal, however, we suggest that European regulators stand to gain much from adopting a more open and responsive position towards citizens’ concerns about vehicle emissions, as well as the plurality of forms of knowledge and experience upon which they are based.

    Research areas

  • dieselgate, environmental, expertise, geographies of science, publics, trust

Documents

Documents

  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Wiley at https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geoj.12294. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 261 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 3/02/21

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