Friends of the Earth criticize German gov't following environmental report
BERLIN, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Germany has one of the highest amount of premature deaths from air pollution in Europe, a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on Monday showed.
Arne Fellermann, expert in transport policy and air quality at the German environmental organization BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany, told Xinhua on Monday that "the German government has done too little to effectively reduce pollutant emissions, particularly with regard to nitrogen dioxides."
According to the EEA report, 62,300 people in Germany died prematurely from air pollution caused by particulate matter, 13,100 from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 3,000 from ground-level ozone in 2015. The EEA states that these pollutants cause or aggravate respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease or cancer, and shorten life expectancy.
The report lists road transport, energy production, agriculture, industry and households as the main sources of air pollution. "Cars are the main cause of NO2 emissions in Germany," Fellermann affirmed.
Before the "dieselgate" emissions scandal in Germany, wherein car manufacturers were installing defeat devices in order to pass emissions tests, there would have been "no attempts to check the emissions data provided by manufacturers," Fellermann said. "Even now the problem has not yet been solved," Fellermann added.
"Emissions from road transport are often worse than those from other sources," said EEA director Hans Bruyninckx on Monday, as they are emitted at ground level and are often found in cities and close to humans.
But the EEA report also points out that stricter regulations on air pollution control and improved standards for vehicle emissions as well as industry and energy production have already halved premature deaths since 1990.
"The limits for air pollution which are determined by the EU have existed for a long time. Basically, they no longer correspond to today's scientific findings," Fellermann said. The recommended limit for particulate matter set by the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, was far below the current limit set by the EU.
WHO is convening the first "Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health" in the Swiss city of Geneva from Oct. 29 until Nov. 1 to "rally the world towards major commitments to fight this problem". The conference seeks to raise awareness of the growing public health challenge and share information and tools on the health risks of air pollution and its interventions.