Clean air in Germany and in Europe

National Clean Air Programme Clean air in Germany and in Europe

Air pollution does not stop at national borders, which is why EU member states must regularly update the European Commission on how they are reducing emissions. The Cabinet has now adopted a relevant Clean Air Programme for Germany.

The emission of pollutants must be further reduced in order to improve air quality in Germany and in the European Union. This is why the EU and the parties to the Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution have set national emission reductions for a number of atmospheric pollutants.

European regulations

Under the provisions of the EU Directive 2016/2284 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants, EU member states are obliged to submit national clean air programmes to the European Commission at least every four years. In these programmes they must lay out how they intend to reduce emissions.

The programmes look at percentage reductions of total national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants as compared to the 2005 levels. These include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia and particulates. For instance, total NOx emissions must be reduced by 39% as of 2020, and by 65% as of 2030.

Current emissions forecasts must be used to indicate whether the measures in place will suffice to meet these targets (baseline scenario). If this is not the case, a compliance scenario must be produced, laying out additional strategies and measures.

Germany can meet 2020 targets

The current Clean Air Programme indicates that Germany will be able to meet the targets for 2020 without taking any additional measures. As of 2025, however, the measures already adopted will not be sufficient to meet the nitrogen oxide and ammonia targets. As of 2030 additional action will also be needed to meet the particulate and sulphur dioxide targets.

Combination of measures to reduce emissions

The German government is adopting numerous measures to ensure that the targets for the period as of 2025 and 2030 are also met. They include:

  • Gradual phasing out of coal-fired power stations as recommended by the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment
  • The climate change mitigation measures of the inter-ministerial Climate Action Programme 2020 and the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency
  • A package of measures for road traffic and transport: environmental incentives for the purchase of cleaner cars and software updates for private cars, hardware retrofitting for buses, promoting an alliance of eco-friendly modes of transport, updating ceilings on CO2 emissions for private cars.