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EU tells Germany: clean up filthy city air
Photo: DPA

EU tells Germany: clean up filthy city air

Published: 28 Feb 2013 10:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Feb 2013 10:20 GMT+01:00

Germany must limit traffic in many cities and congested urban areas in order to cut pollution, the European Commission has said, while some are warning that certain areas may have to ban all cars.

“German authorities have identified traffic as the main source of the pollution,” wrote the European Commission in a decision paper on February 20th.

Of particular concern are levels of nitrogen oxide from diesel exhaust, which have not fallen as expected after environmental green zones were imposed in many cities - in fact, levels of the gas have risen in many areas, the paper said.

Nitrogen oxide levels were found to exceed legal limits in 33 of 57 German regions tested, including Berlin, Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Hamburg.

The German government had asked Brussels to give it until 2015 to reduce the pollution in these areas, but the Commission said action had to be quicker than that.

“The affected regions must act as fast as possible,” said a spokesman from the office of EU Environment Commissioner's Janez Potocnik.

“We ask the regions to act immediately to reduce traffic from private individuals,” Jens Hilgenberg of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) told the paper, and said this was the only way to reduce pollution.

In a bid to drastically cut emissions, some regions may consider banning cars altogether, wrote the Bild newspaper on Thursday.

The warnings, which were also issued for other European Union countries including Austria, the UK, France and Italy, must now be met with concrete plans to improve air quality and reduce pollution.

If levels do not drop below acceptable limits, offenders could face legal action and possible fines from the European Court.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:15 February 28, 2013 by US-TommyBoy
Well, well, Germany. It is not enough that you shoulder the entire EU economy on your back, especially the PIIGS, and throw in Great Britain. Now they are going to fine you for dirty diesels?

You all better get fracking (serching for oil and natural gas), because if the EU is going after diesels, it is only a matter of days before they come back for your dirty coal fired power plants that feeds the industries that keep the EU barely above bankruptcy.
05:52 March 1, 2013 by anaverageguy
Not to worry. The wind and solar will be on line soon to take up the slack when all the coal plants are shut down, and all of the vehicles are electric. Russians ALWAYS willing to sell natural gas and the the French will always want to sell the produce of the only thing they have that works ALL the time.
11:08 March 2, 2013 by Roberto Gold
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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