Court cases bring improved air quality

German cities taken to court for breaching air quality standards saw pollution levels drop twice as much as other cities between 2018 and 2019, according to green group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), which has taken legal action over consistently dangerous levels of air pollution in 40 German cities. Nearly half of these cases were brought in liaison with environmental law charity ClientEarth.

Between 2018 and 2019, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) came down by an average of 4.2 µg/m³ in cities where air quality litigation has been pursued. In cities where no legal action was taken, the average drop was just 2.1 µg/m³.

In February 2018, the country’s highest court confirmed that diesel restrictions were not only possible but legally necessary when they were the most efficient way to bring down illegal levels of pollution. Later court results have included wins and settlements where less polluted cities propose other traffic control measures, such as improvements to bus, train and cycle infrastructure, discounts on season tickets and fleet-wide bus retrofits.

Source: DUH press release, 8 October 2020. Link:

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