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Berlin has Europe’s cleanest air

The Local · 7 Sep 2011, 16:03

Published: 07 Sep 2011 16:03 GMT+02:00

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The more than 50 percent soot reduction in Berlin stems from the city’s systematic introduction of car emission zones, the environmental group BUND said on Wednesday. Berlin’s comprehensive strategy addressing high pollution emitters and aimed at significantly decreasing car use has also played a role in improving its overall air quality.

The German capital also has a solid public transportation system, combined with a decade-long trend towards cycling in the city and constantly improving bicycle infrastructure.

According to the city’s environmental officials, the traffic-related exposure to diesel exhaust particulate matter in 2010 has declined by 33 percent compared to 2009, and 52 percent compared to 2007.

"In Berlin the share of car traffic on the road has decreased by six percent. In addition, use of bicycles has doubled to 13 percent," said Werner Reh, a transportation expert for BUND. "The top spot in the fight against harmful exhaust emissions can be pegged on the consistent implementation of the environmental zone in Berlin.”

However, Copenhagen and Stockholm, which split the second place ranking, boast much higher percentages of bicycles users, 40 and 50 percent respectively, showing Berlin can still improve, Reh said.

Zurich and Vienna were ranked third in the study. Two other German cities examined – Düsseldorf and Stuttgart – ended up on the bottom of the lists, both with unsatisfactory scores.

Story continues below…

The environmental spokesman for the centre-left Social Democrats, Daniel Buchholz, said on Wednesday that the green zones, with their proven positive effect on the air of Berlin, were a "success story."

DADP/The Local/emh

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Your comments about this article

17:27 September 7, 2011 by raandy
I live in Berlin, and this is welcomed news.

I think I will go outside and take a deep breath of fresh air.
18:49 September 7, 2011 by William Thirteen
the sweet, sweet smell of burning cars!
21:53 September 7, 2011 by 9900lawre
I too spotted the fact that thelocal decided to publish such contradicting stories so close together! Bravo! Lets light a BBQ and have a bratwurst to celebrate.
01:01 September 8, 2011 by DOZ
Canadians consider Germany's Eco-Standards as Socialist-Pinko.
11:13 September 8, 2011 by hankeat
Really? Despite all the dog shits on the streets? Amazing!
11:17 September 8, 2011 by Dayzee
Cleanest air: Maybe. Dirtiest streets: Certainly
13:03 September 8, 2011 by canadianinberlin
Okay, the headline is misleading. "Cleanest air" and "best clean-air practices" are two different things entirely. Berlin is *on the way* to being a clean-air city with its green zones and bicycle-embracing public. Take a look at your Berlin windows. In no other city I have lived in have I had to wash the windows as often as here. Personally, I would rate any coastal city with air blowing in off the waters as having cleaner air.
05:21 September 9, 2011 by Mh0926
Really "surprising" news, I thought many other cities in Europe have better green zones with fresh air, especially cities in mountains or seashore.
08:06 September 9, 2011 by Shirazz
Spot on, canadianinberlin,

Headlines are to turn heads, sub headlines are to turn clever heads.
16:36 September 9, 2011 by Manuelaxxx
It sounds that you are all jealeous......Germany is much more advanced than the UK in many ways. And London as cool as it is is a disaster if it comes to airpolltion it is actually a crime, but nothing much is being done. I see soo many cars who park and have the engine still running afraid of a parking ticket that it is painful. There might be dirt on the streets in Berlin but dirty air like in London can cause death, the dirt can't.
18:50 September 9, 2011 by Jollyjack
Berliner luft?
23:27 September 10, 2011 by EinWolf
So what is a green zone? No cars allowed?
02:03 September 12, 2011 by Outlander
I wish Brisbane, Australia would take notice of Europe. Currently in Brisbane, major semi-trailer trucks carrying freight go through the CBD and we have an awesome bypass tunnel around the CBD but they charge to use that tunnel (Clem7). Nobody is driving through it and the operators went bankrupt. Backwards city. Add to all this, our public transport is absolutely terrible and hugely expensive, so much so, that most people drive and pay for parking and still save money compared to public transport. Cycling is not catered for as a method of transport, only as a recreation and helmets are mandatory cutting cycling uptake even further. So basically Brisbane took the blueprint of cities that are working really well and did the opposite.
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