The EU wants to lower the limit values for air pollution with fine dust and nitrogen dioxide. Meanwhile, in the new year, requirements for vehicles are to be relaxed in several places in Baden-Württemberg. Complaints are only a matter of time.
Karlsruhe (dpa / lsw) - If you are traveling by car, you will probably have to pay less attention to the exhaust emissions of your car in some places in the new year. In several municipalities in the southwest, the environmental zones and the associated obligation to have a green sticker are to be abolished in the course of the year. From the point of view of the German Environmental Aid (DUH), the instruction from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport is the completely wrong signal. Federal Managing Director Jürgen Resch told the German Press Agency in Karlsruhe: "Of course we will examine and tackle all legal means to prevent Baden-Württemberg from deteriorating the air now."
Low emission zones are areas in which only vehicles that comply with certain emission standards are allowed to drive. There are stickers for this, depending on the required values, in the colors red, yellow and green, which are attached to windshields. According to the Federal Environment Agency, there are 56 environmental zones in Germany. In 55 of these, only vehicles with a green sticker are permitted, in Neu-Ulm also those with a yellow sticker.
Specifically, the regional council in Karlsruhe is preparing to abolish the environmental zones in Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and in the neighboring Pfinztal. "Due to the persistently low readings for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) in particular in these two cities and this municipality, and in view of the forecast that all applicable limit values for air pollutants will continue to be safely complied with, the driving bans there due to the green environmental zones are not more needed," said a spokeswoman.
The truck ban on Reinhold-Frank-Strasse in Karlsruhe should also be lifted. According to the information, it is also no longer required for reasons of air pollution control.
The hearing of the municipalities concerned is to be concluded in January. Citizens still have the opportunity to comment. "We will deal with the comments received and comment on them in the final plan," explained the spokeswoman for the regional council. This will then be laid out again, probably in February 2023. The updated clean air plans will then come into force.
The regional council in Stuttgart is preparing to abolish the environmental zones in Wendlingen am Neckar (Esslingen district), Schwäbisch Gmünd (Ostalb district), Ilsfeld (Heilbronn district) and Urbach (Rems-Murr district). According to the information, public participation is planned for the first quarter of 2023. The environmental zones mentioned are then expected to be abolished by May 1, 2023.
In the administrative district of Freiburg, only the environmental zone in Schramberg (Rottweil district) is to be abolished. The participation procedures have already been completed here, so that the amended clean air plan will be announced in the first quarter of 2023 and the environmental zone will be lifted in the second quarter of 2023. The regional council in Tübingen, on the other hand, is not preparing any lifting of environmental zones at the moment.
DUH Federal Managing Director Resch criticized the procedure: "That annoyed me quite a bit when I heard that from Baden-Württemberg, of all places," he said, referring to the state government and Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens), which has been led by the Greens for years. "They take measures against air quality." The EU is rightly planning to tighten the limit values. In order to be able to comply with these, stricter measures must now be taken.
To protect the health of citizens, limit values for pollutants in the air have been in force throughout Europe for several years. According to a proposal by the EU Commission, the annual limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from 2030 should now only be 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air instead of the previous 40 25 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter.
According to the Commission, road transport is the largest source of air pollution in cities. Despite better air quality, according to estimates by the EU Environment Agency EEA, around 240,000 people in the EU died prematurely in 2020 as a result of exposure to particulate matter in their environment, around 28,900 of them in Germany. 49,000 more deaths (Germany: 10,000) are due to chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 24,000 (Germany: 4600) to exposure to ground-level ozone (O3).
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transport justified the procedure: "Green environmental zones have achieved their effect." As a result, the vehicle fleet in Baden-Württemberg was renewed more quickly. Only occasional visitors from the surrounding area with old vehicles would be kept out of the cities by green environmental zones.
At the same time, the development of air quality is very pleasing. "In cities where the limit values are significantly undercut, the green environmental zones are no longer necessary to comply with the limit values." They could not contribute to compliance with new values. This would exclude vehicles that were first registered before 2006 - and should therefore no longer be of great relevance in 2030.