EU rebuffs German call for more lax NOx limits in “slap in the face” – report
The EU Commission has “brusquely” rebuffed a German call for a reappraisal of existing nitrogen oxide limits in what amounts to a “slap in the face” for transport minister Andreas Scheuer, write Michael Bauchmüller and Markus Balser in Süddeutsche Zeitung. Scientific findings regarding nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter had repeatedly shown the negative health effects, three EU commissioners wrote in a response to Scheuer, seen by the newspaper. The commissioners said there was a legal obligation to stay below the limits agreed by member countries “including Germany”. The letter added that a reassessment had already started last year, also with a view to checking whether the limits were sufficiently strict – in contrast to Scheuer’s call, who had effectively asked for more lax regulations in order to prevent diesel driving bans in Germany.
The original trigger for Scheuer’s call for a relaxing of nitrogen limits was a group of pulmonary doctors in Germany who had questioned existing limits at the start of the year. But many of the doctors’ claims have been shown to be false. Many German cities face court-ordered diesel driving bans, because their local air quality exceeds EU limits.
Germany is under pressure to get both air pollution and carbon emissions from the transport sector under control. Apart from the driving bans, lawmakers have to cut transport emissions in order to comply with EU climate targets to avoid being fined billions of euros under the EU effort sharing scheme. A transport commission consisting of experts from climate and environmental NGOs, industry and municipalities is tasked with making proposals for reducing emissions in the sector and is expected to present its results by the end of March.