One year after the European Court of Justice’s nitrogen dioxide verdict against Germany, the Ministry of the Environment and the German Environmental Aid (DUH) draw very different conclusions. The DUH criticizes the measures for clean air as still insufficient, while the ministry speaks of a “fortunately” reduced exposure to the air pollutant.
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On June 3, 2021, the ECJ found that Germany had done too little in the past to protect citizens from nitrogen dioxide.
The Federal Environment Ministry points out that last year only the three cities of Munich, Ludwigsburg and Essen failed to comply with the limit values at one measuring point each. In 2019 there were 25 cities.
DUH Federal Managing Director Jürgen Resch believes that the improvements are primarily positive side effects of the Corona crisis. “It’s not a permanent solution,” he said. A lot of suffering is associated with air pollution. He also emphasized: “It’s not all good if the limit values are only just met.” This applies all the more because he considers the current limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air on an annual average to be too high.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has now lowered its recommendation to 10 micrograms.
The Ministry of the Environment, on the other hand, sees the renewal of vehicle fleets – especially diesel cars – as the main reason for the improvement. Cars that meet the Euro 6d and Euro 6d-temp emission standards also emit less nitrogen oxides in real operation on the road.
According to current data from the Federal Motor Transport Authority, there were 14.7 million diesel cars in Germany at the beginning of the year. That was a good 400,000 fewer than at the peak in 2018. In addition, 2.3 million of them now have the emission classes Euro 6d or 6d-temp, which came onto the road for the first time in 2019.