The organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) has drawn up a positive mid-term balance sheet but at the same time is not resting on its laurels.
31 of 40 lawsuits have been successfully concluded, but not a single one has been lost so far: this is the impressive interim result for the calendar year 2020 of DUH. They are confident that by the end of 2020, "clean air will have been achieved in all German cities. The Federal Environment Agency confirmed through data from the state measurement network that the air had been "demonstrably and noticeably" improved by the measures applied. According to this, the decrease of nitrogen dioxide in the period 2018 to 2019 was on average twice as strong in the cities in which the DUH had filed a lawsuit than in the municipalities in which (so far) no legal dispute had taken place.
Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of DUH, is sceptical and combative despite the considerable successes: "We have reached an important milestone and people in many cities can finally breathe clean air. With our complaints, we have succeeded in getting politicians to deal intensively with the necessity of air pollution control and to strengthen rail, bus and bicycle traffic in the affected cities. Now the court rulings and real measurements prove that the complaints were not only formally justified, but also necessary to enforce the numerous measures for clean air. In heavily polluted cities like Stuttgart we see how diesel driving bans massively reduce NO2 values. In cities with less high exceedances, it is possible to do without diesel driving bans if, for example, the total number of vehicles is reduced, slowed down and the rail, bus and bicycle infrastructure is massively expanded".
The announced goal of the DUH to enforce clean air in all cities by 2020 is ambitious and will provide plenty of topics for discussion and reports. Anyone who has followed the proceedings over the past few months knows that DUH is not a pleasant opponent and is exhausting all possible legal means to successfully implement its ambitious goals.