Environmental Monitor 2024: Climate protection measures are having an impact

Other environmental issues, such as the condition of our water bodies, are still a long way from reaching their targets

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River landscape
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The German Environment Agency's (UBA) Environmental Monitor 2024 once again presents a mixed picture of the state of the environment in Germany. While there have been successes in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, many indicators show a clear need for action. The Environmental Monitor covers ten central topics ranging from climate, water and air to energy and transport, each with three key indicators. These indicators compare the development of the state of the environment with the respective political goals. A colour scale (green, yellow, orange, red) illustrates how successful the process has been so far. “The UBA's Environmental Monitor 2024 shows that ambitious environmental and climate protection strengthens our ecosystems and our health. Greenhouse gas emissions are falling and air pollutants have decreased significantly,” says UBA President Dirk Messner. “At the same time, the report also points out where there are still problems and where we need to catch up. The pollution of our waters, for example, is an immense challenge for the coming years. There has been little progress on road noise, which has a direct impact on our health.”

Selected findings in detail:

Good news on the ⁠ climate⁠: With an ambitious expansion of renewable energies (currently yellow), the national climate targets remain achievable across all sectors by 2030. The ⁠ emission ⁠of greenhouse gases is even in the green zone: A total of around 674 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were released in Germany in 2023, which is 76 million tonnes or 10.1 percent less than in 2022. This is the sharpest decrease since 1990. The reasons for this are the increased share of renewable energies, a decline in fossil fuel energy production and lower demand for energy from industry and consumers. However, the transport sector is not on track and needs to make significant progress in terms of climate protection⁠.

Emissions of air pollutants are currently green. The averaged index of the five most important air pollutants fell by 34.1 per cent between 2005 and 2021. Germany is also honouring its international commitments under the Gothenburg Protocol and the European Clean Air Directive (NEC Directive⁠) 2020. But the next target is ambitious: According to the new NEC Directive, Germany must reduce its emissions of nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds (⁠NMVOC⁠), ammonia, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter by an average of 45 per cent between 2005 and 2030. Reducing these pollutants is also a goal in the German government's sustainability strategy and poses major challenges for German environmental policy.

There are particularly clear deficits in the area of water – all three indicators are in the red here. For example, the limit value for nitrate in groundwater has been exceeded at around one in six measuring points every year since 2008. One of the main reasons for this is nutrient inputs from agriculture. A look at plastic waste in the North Sea is also sobering. Large quantities of waste continue to end up in the oceans, where plastics only degrade very slowly. It will be a long time before the agreed target is reached.

Other indicators focus on human health. For example, the orange ⁠ indicator⁠ “Exposure of the population to traffic noise” indicates that road traffic noise affects the lives of many people in Germany and can have far-reaching effects on health. The situation has only improved slightly since 2017. Although numerous measures have already been taken, additional efforts are clearly needed.

All other indicators and more detailed information on their evaluation can be found in the report.

Background:

The Environmental Monitor 2024 is an indicator report with which the German Environment Agency provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the environment, the causes of environmental pollution and starting points for improvement measures. To this end, a total of 30 meaningful environmental indicators were selected for all environmental areas and, where available, underpinned with existing political objectives – for example from the German Sustainable Development Strategy or EU directives. The system of environmental indicators therefore also represents an assessment of environmental policy. The underlying data and many other data-based content of the ⁠UBA⁠ can be found online in the environmental data. The Environmental Monitor data is also available in machine-readable form in the pilot system of the UBA Data Cube.

Umweltbundesamt Headquarters

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany

Der Umweltmonitor 2024 zeigt den Zustand verschiedener Umweltbereiche
Der Umweltmonitor bildet zehn zentrale Themenfelder mit jeweils drei Schlüsselindikatoren ab.
Source: Umweltbundesamt
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 Environmental Monitor  environmental data  air  water  climate  transport