In many cities, air pollution, traffic jams and gridlock are the defining characteristics of everyday urban life. Now, the German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has issued its ruling on one possible remedy: in principle, diesel bans are permissible under current law. This decision has been hailed by many residents of cities with poor air quality. But extremely short term actions such as driving bans and fines are unlikely to create the necessary consciousness for change, and are only a stopgap, not a long term solution. They can neither meet the existing (and growing) strong demand for urban mobility, nor do they represent a holistic, networked approach to the problem and causes of air pollution. For cities and municipalities, but also for private businesses, the challenge is to pursue holistic, interdisciplinary approaches for reducing pollutants in the building, transport and energy sectors and improve air quality.
Do Not Choke The Cities
Effective actions in the building, transport, infrastructure and energy sectors – ideally implemented in the planning phase – will be key. These also include suitable open space and green space measures such as moss walls, city trees and façade greening. With regard to infrastructure and transport, a mobility transformation is vital. Action must be taken to promote such concepts as car-free neighborhoods, bicycle highways and urban, low-emission ropeways wherever possible, as well as promoting electromobility.
Less Congestion, Less Air Pollution
Better coordination of urban traffic and construction sites, the expansion of park and ride spaces for commuters, investment in attractive public transport systems and automatic parking concepts also offer great potential for optimizing urban traffic. Particularly with regard to better traffic management and construction site coordination, digitalization will prove key.
German Clean Air Crash Program 2017-2020
The German government is funding municipal efforts to improve air quality through its Clean Air Crash Program 2017-2020 (Sofortprogramm für saubere Luft 2017-2020). This supports electromobility and charging infrastructure in local transport, cycling and pedestrian traffic and efficient traffic management.