11 Feb 2020, 13:57
Benjamin Wehrmann

Nitrogen dioxide pollution declining in German cities – environment agency

Clean Energy Wire

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in Germany's inner cities is declining, but many urban areas still exceed EU limits, the German Environment Agency (UBA) has found in a preliminary 2019 analysis. The mean annual limit of 40 grams of NO2 per cubic metre of air was exceeded at about 20 percent of the country's measuring stations, down from 42 percent in 2018. At the same time, particulate matter pollution fell to the lowest level since the late 1990s. "The federal government, the states and the municipalities have invested a lot in cleaner air and are now able to reap the benefits by measuring lower pollution levels," said UBA head Dirk Messner. However, 19 cities still exceed the limits, Messner added, cautioning that the number could still rise to 30 once all of the data has been reviewed. The UBA head said the fact that modern diesel cars cause much lower emissions shows "we could have met the limits a long time ago if older diesel cars had been cleaner.” He added that "the best guarantee for cleaner air in cities is fewer cars on the road." According to the UBA, speed limits, driving bans, cleaner buses and engine updates in manipulated diesel cars all have contributed to the decline in NO2 levels.

Nitrogen dioxide pollution in Germany's inner cities shifted into the focus of public attention following the dieselgate scandal, which exposed that most car manufacturers were manipulating their engines to emit less pollution on the test bed than under real-life driving conditions. Many German cities since have been compelled to introduce partial driving bans for older diesel cars to comply with EU emission limits, but authorities have registered thousands of driving ban infractions since the new rules entered into effect.

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