31 Jan 2019, 13:27
Julian Wettengel

Air pollution in German cities decreases slightly in 2018

Clean Energy Wire

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in German cities – mainly caused by diesel vehicles – decreased slightly in 2018, according to preliminary projections by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). This was due to local measures such as speed limits, traffic restrictions, renewal of vehicle fleets and the weather, the UBA said in a press release. Many cities still exceeded the European Union NO2 limit of an annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, said UBA head Maria Krautzberger. Cars have to be retrofitted fast as “only clean cars provide protection from driving bans,” she said. Final data for several cities is still missing and the UBA expects to deliver a final report by May.

The German government has tried to curb the fallout of the country’s emissions fraud scandal and avoid diesel vehicle driving bans or being sued by the European Commission over excessive air pollution. While NO2 pollution mostly affects human health, the issue has ramifications for Germany’s climate ambitions. Combustion engine driven cars not only cause local air pollution, but the sector is also responsible for around 20 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Diesel driving bans are set to hasten the decline of diesel cars and could prove an important boost for electric cars and green mobility in general.

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