According to data of the competent State Agency for the Environment (LUBW), the respiratory dust levels in the city of Stuttgart are currently as high as 128 micrograms per cubic meter, this being even higher than in smog plagued Beijing. No improvement is expected in the short term, as the prevailing thermal inversion prevents air exchange. Fine dust is a product of air chemistry processes involving gaseous precursors, e.g. nitrogen oxides.
The regional government in Brussels is under pressure. The green activist lawyers ClientEarth are demanding that Brussels submits a plan indicating how air pollution in the capital can be reduced.
Over 90% of the world’s population suffer from the consequences of air pollution. A new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that people in Asia above all are struggling to cope with airborne contamination. In Beijing, for example, the annual smog season is now starting. In autumn and winter, people in Beijing only rarely go outside for fear of the severe air pollution in the city.
The environmental association Deutsche Umwelthilfe has taken legal action throughout Germany to fight for clean air in inner city areas polluted by nitrogen oxides. The first successful verdict in North Rhine-Westphalia has now been handed down by the Administrative Court in Düsseldorf. The District Government now has until October of next year to modify the Clean Air Plan for the city of Düsseldorf in such a way as to ensure that the limits are complied with.
According to estimates by the Federal Environment Agency, particulates and nitrogen oxides lead to over 50,000 deaths in Germany each year. A comprehensive strategy to reduce nitrogen emissions is now required.
NOx levels in many German cities are far higher than permitted under EU regulations. The local authorities concerned are now under pressure to find solutions that can reduce the nitrogen oxide levels in the air.
In course of the looming threat of Nox-pollution, Hong Kong’s government has decided to encourage behavioral changes such as low emissions streets and electronic road pricing.
In order to reduce nitrogen oxide levels in German inner city areas, the Federal Ministry of the Environment considers the implementation of a “Blue Badge” for cars meeting the Euro-6 emission standards. This would mean only cars with a blue badge could enter restricted zones in major German cities while millions of older diesel cars would be banned from city centers.
Nitrogen oxide levels near schools and kindergartens located in busy streets far exceed the statutory pollution limits. This has now been shown by measurements performed by the University of Heidelberg, especially in Essen and Cologne, but also in other major cities in Germany.
Authorities in some German cities are discussing the introduction of “Blue Badges” for cars meeting particularly strict emission standards and allowing only cars having such a Blue Badge access certain areas in the city centers. Like other traffic controlling measures, this would mean restrictions for the citizens.
It has long been known that nitrogen oxide levels in German cities exceed by far the statutory limits.
However, nitrogen oxide concentrations measured in 2015 are extremely high, above all in Stuttgart, even in comparison with other European countries. The EU Commission has therefore launched two infringement procedures against the German Federal Government.
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