Since their introduction one year ago, 32 so-called Umweltzonen have been introduced around Germany, requiring vehicles to display special red, yellow or green stickers in built-up areas. Another 10 – 15 zones are planned in 2009.
“We can see the first results,” said the director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe Jürgen Resch, claiming that his organisation had discerned progress both in the benefit to air quality and in general acceptance of the scheme.
In those cities where regular checks are made and pains are taken to communicate benefits to drivers, the majority of cars are displaying the stickers that determine if a vehicle is allowed on the road during days with poor air quality, Resch said. According to his statistics, 98.4 percent of cars in Stuttgart are involved in the scheme. The negative example is Augsburg, where only 67.4 percent of cars are displaying the stickers. “The state of Bavaria seems to be reading the rules differently, and isn't checking the traffic,” he said.
Resch hopes that 2009 will be the “Year of Retrofitting” for particle filters on cars. Particularly light transport vehicles urgently need new filters, according to the environmentalist.
Resch also called on politicians to lobby for more financial support for auto-companies who fit particle fitters in new and second-hand cars.