No.: 1/2019Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear Reader,

In 2018 again, the EU long term limit value for nitrogen dioxide in ambient air, which has been in force since 2010, was exceeded in several cities in Germany. As clean air is an important determinant for health, we do not support the view of some critics in the media who question these values. Find out more in the leading article in this newsletter. For those interested in a more in-depth look at this subject, we provide a link to our responses to frequently asked questions in the current discussion under the leading article.

Wishing you happy reading,

The UBA press office

Nitrogen dioxide limit value exceeded in many cities again in 2018

Stau in der Stadt.
In cities, traffic is the biggest source of NO2.
Source: Kai Krueger /

In 2018, the level of air pollution by nitrogen dioxide in Germany declined slightly compared with the previous year. Despite this, the limit value of 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air was exceeded at approximately 39 percent (2017: 45 percent) of the traffic-orientated measuring stations. These are the findings from the preliminary evaluation of the measurement data from 2018 of the federal states and the UBA.

President of the UBA, Maria Krautzberger: “The limit value since 2010 is still being exceeded in many German cities. This poses a health risk to their inhabitants. The primary source is road traffic and Diesel cars in particular, which have excessively high rates of emissions of nitrogen dioxide. Action must finally be taken in this area: these vehicles need to be retrofitted with effective catalytic converters – and at the expense of the polluter, i.e. the automotive industry. Clean cars are necessary to keep the air quality at a high standard and to prevent bans on certain motor vehicles with bad emission rates. Both the technology and the statutory regulations on the retrofitting are available and need to be put to use rapidly. After all, with the current measures it will take too long for us to have clean air everywhere.”

The UBA rates the questioning of the limit values for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter – which has taken place in recent discussions – as not helpful. They are required to protect sensitive people, such as people who suffer from asthma as well as children and old people. Contrary to some recent media reports, the scientific basis on the harmful effects of air pollutants is more solid than ever before. Overviewing the current state of science, the necessity to regulate air pollutants such as particulate matter more strictly is also clear.

Consumer tips

ein Rattenschatten an der Wand

Rodent control involves risks for man and the environment

The use of poisonous bait to control rats and mice can lead to an unintentional poisoning of pets and wild animals. In addition, most of the chemical substances used are very persistent in the environment and accumulate in organisms. A large number of risk mitigation measures must be taken to prevent these occurrences, for example the use of bait stations. read more

Quiz: recycling done right

The better consumers separate their waste, the more waste can ultimately be recycled. In principle, this applies to all types of waste. How good is your knowledge of this field?  read more (in German)

UBA positions

Planet Earth

Aligning EU Climate Policy with the Paris Agreement

According to the IPCC, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to mitigate the risks. An UBA position paper outlines how the EU climate policy could be aligned with this goal. Already by 2020, the parties to the Paris Agreement are to submit their updated national climate contribution to limit global warming. Up to now, far less has been promised than would be necessary. read more

Das Wort Recycling vor schwarzem Hintergrund, darauf auch ausrangierte Kühlaggregate.

Higher quality plastics recycling is necessary

Now available in English: UBA's biannual "What Matters" magazine covers current topics in environmental protection. The first edition “Recycling” takes an in-depth look at the circular economy in Germany with a special focus on plastics. The magazine offers data and facts and discusses current problems and possible solutions in Germany’s circular economy. read more

From treatment plant to climate protector: sewage gas can achieve more

When treating waste water – in waste water treatment plants, for instance – sewage gas arises, which is a renewable source of energy. Until now, this has been used to generate electricity which is used in the waste water treatment plant itself. For the energy transition, solutions that are more flexible are required. A position paper from the UBA shows how sewage gas could be used in the future, for example, in the area of transport and for heating and cooling purposes.  read more (in German)

Science and research

Strand in Büsum (Nordsee)

German North and Baltic Seas not in good condition

Many species of fish, bird and mammals and their habitats in the North Sea and Baltic Sea are exposed to heavy pollution, say the latest reports on the condition of both bodies of water which the federal government and the coastal federal states have drawn up to implement the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). read more

Common Agricultural Policy 2021: no improvement for the environment

In June 2018, the European Commission presented its proposals for the configuration of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2021 onwards. At the heart of the proposals is giving the Member States a greater degree of creative leeway with the distribution of the funding. A study report by the UBA looked into the proposals in the context of the political debate, and came to the following conclusion: the CAP does not improve the protection of the environment.  read more (in German)

UBA study: where is agriculture heading?

How is the agricultural sector set to develop in the future? Is the current focus on the efficiency of farms sustainable? On the basis of a comprehensive set of indicators, a current study report by the UBA attempts to answer these questions.  read more (in German)

Fewer critical raw materials for environmental technologies

Electric motors, photovoltaics, generators, battery storage systems: rare, and in some cases, critical raw materials, are required for many sustainable technologies. The development of environmental technologies of this kind threatens to be subdued by shortages of raw materials. It is therefore necessary to look for alternatives which require fewer critical raw materials or which can omit their use altogether.  read more (in German)

High average ozone values, but few peaks in 2018

Despite seemingly ideal conditions for ozone, no more peak concentrations were measured during the hot and sunny summer of 2018 than in previous years. According to a recent study report by the UBA, it is likely that the drought contributed to the reduction in ozone concentrations as plants formed fewer of the precursors necessary for the ozone formation.  read more (in German)

Faster grid development while taking environmental concerns into consideration

To support the energy transition, the development of the German power grids is necessary. To accelerate this process, the statutory process for the approval of the power networks has changed. A study report commissioned by the German Environment Agency has examined whether such changes are really able to contribute to accelerating the expansion of the power grid. In addition to this, its influence on the taking into account of environmental concerns has also been addressed.  read more (in German)

Particulate matter from wood burners: air quality threshold values complied with

When homes use their heating systems, wood-burning heating systems in private households are a major source of particulate matter. In areas in which wood is widely used for heating, high rates of pollution from particulate matter can temporarily occur, especially in the case of still weather conditions. However, at present, there is no evidence to suggest that the threshold values for particulate matter in the ambient air are exceeded in these areas.  read more (in German)

Symposium: supporting climate change adaptation with scientific methods

Adapting to the consequences of climate change helps to better deal with the possible risks, to reduce the damage and, if necessary, to exploit the existing opportunities. How can we determine whether we are on the right path in Germany? With which methods can stakeholders identify and assess the appropriate adaptation measures?  read more (in German)

Industry & environment

Windpark, Rapsfeld und unbestellter Acker

Electricity made regionally

Starting 1 January 2019 every household has the opportunity to drive the transformation of the energy system. The new guarantees of regional origin register makes it possible to issue guarantees of origin for electricity produced from renewable sources of energy. End customers will be able to verify that their electricity is produced in their region, for example by the nearby wind turbine. read more


Climate change abroad also affects the German economy

Germany is a major player in international trade. It makes our economy vulnerable to the impact of climate change in other regions of the world. The German Environment Agency (UBA) has completed a first-ever study of the climate risks for international trade relations. The study claims that the risks of climate change occurring abroad affect Germany's economy, too. read more

Screenshot aus dem gezeichneten Kurzfilm: Zu sehen ist ein Kraftwerk, das Geld für Emissionsberechtigungen zahlt.

How does emissions trading work?

Why is there a trade in or with emissions? Who specifies the framework conditions and how does emissions trading actually work? An explanatory film gives short and concise answers to these questions and explains the contribution of emissions trading to climate protection. read more

Binärer Code auf einem Bildschirm.

Environmental impact of software is now measurable

Software has a significant impact on the resource efficiency of IT hardware and on how long it is used. Programs which execute the same functions can have very different levels of energy consumption depending on how they are programmed. The German Environment Agency (UBA) has developed criteria to assess the environmental impact of software products. read more

Lieferwagen in der Stadt

First national competition for sustainable urban logistics

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze presented awards to the winning projects of the National Sustainable Urban Logistics Competition which the Federal Ministry for Environment launched together with the German Environment Agency. The competition distinguishes innovative logistics strategies that foster environmentally and climate-friendly transport in urban areas. read more

Veterinary medicinal products in the environment: teaching materials available

During livestock farming, residues of antibiotics and other veterinary medicinal products as well as resistant pathogens can find their way into the water and soil via slurry and manure, thereby promoting the natural development of resistances. Teaching materials are now freely available to teachers and students in the fields of agriculture and veterinary medicine.  read more (in German)

Energy management systems: reducing the rates of energy consumption in businesses

With the help of energy management systems (EMS), businesses can increase their energy efficiency. This helps to protect the climate and reduce operating costs. The numbers of businesses taking this opportunity, the factors putting other businesses off, the way in which the quota could be increased, and the energy savings that could be achieved are shown in the results of a research project by the German Environment Agency.  read more (in German)

Waste oil becomes a high quality base oil for engines

A refinery facility in Saxony-Anhalt (Germany) has been the first in the world to successfully process waste oil into base oil of the highest mineral oil quality category (API Group III). In comparison with production from crude oil, it achieves a 60 percent saving in CO2 and conserves fossil crude oil resources. The process was developed with the support of the Environmental Innovation Programme.  read more (in German)

Metal industry: measures for the conservation of further resources developed

Production buildings that are more energy efficient, more raw materials from recycling or renewable electricity production – a variety of measures are needed to ensure that the production of non-ferrous metals such as aluminium or copper uses less energy and fewer raw materials. A research project by the UBA highlights the measures that are especially promising and the stakeholders who are required.  read more (in German)

Steel industry: far greater use of waste heat possible

In Germany, every year, more than 2.6 billion kilowatt hours of heat that are generated during the production processes for iron and steel in integrated steelworks alone could otherwise be put to use. This is the conclusion of a report commissioned by UBA to investigate the waste heat potential of such plants.  read more (in German)

Bottling of explosive substances becomes more energy-efficient

As demonstrated by a project in the Environmental Innovation Programme: explosive substances such as those that are found in the cosmetics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries can also be bottled in what are known as mono-block systems. These systems are appreciably more energy-efficient as the containers are bottled and sealed in the same machine.  read more (in German)

A variety of changes for a sustainable form of agriculture

The agricultural sector in Germany has been subject to huge pressure for change. One thing is certainly clear: we need to make some changes. What these changes will actually look like, however, is uncertain. On 22nd November, the Commission for Agriculture of the German Environment Agency discussed its recommendations surrounding five topics for the transition to a more sustainable form of agriculture with the general public.  read more (in German)

Environment at municipal level

Action planning for noise: UBA guide supports civic participation

According to the EU Environmental Noise Directive, municipalities are required to involve the general public in the action plans for noise. A new guide from the UBA provides support with the planning and implementation. Citizens know all about the noise situation in their local environment, and with their help, innovative and generally accepted solutions can often be found.  read more (in German)

Environment at international level

modern tramway in the city

Climate protection and clean air: Polish-German city cooperation

Climate protection and better air quality are important issues in cities in both Poland and Germany. In an advisory assistance project of the German Federal Environment Ministry and the UBA, the exchange of experiences and collaboration between municipalities in Germany and Poland as well as other key stakeholders was intensified for the transition to a low-emissions economy. read more

Pollutants: successes in water protection, challenges remain

As shown in a recent report by the European Environment Agency (EEA): rivers and lakes are enjoying an ever-improving degree of protection against pollutants throughout the EU. Challenges continue to exist, however, including mercury, brominated flame retardants and pesticides, in addition to substances which are not yet covered by the EU Water Framework Directive – such as medicinal products.  read more (in German)

Law & legislation

UBA recommendation on the analysis of legionella in drinking water

The current Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV) contains regulations concerning the analysis of legionella in the drinking water heating systems of drinking water installations. From 1st March 2019 onwards, a new method is to be applied to the microbiological determination of legionella. For this purpose, the German Environment Agency has adapted its recommendation to the new requirements.  read more (in German)

Environmental crime: fewer offences prosecuted, high number of unreported cases

The illegal handling of radioactive materials, the pollution of the water, air or soil and the illegal disposal of waste: many criminal offences are linked to the environment. A recent evaluation of the UBA’s statistics on environmental offences indicates a reduction in the number of offences actually prosecuted. There is also clear evidence of a large number of unreported cases, however.  read more (in German)

Amendment of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG): passive electrical appliances now covered

From 1st May 2019, passive end devices – i.e., those that only conduct electricity, such as sockets or light switches – will also be considered electrical or electronic devices in terms of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG). Manufacturers of passive electrical appliances are required to register with the "stiftung ear" by 1st May 2019.  read more (in German)

Biogas plants: new technical regulation aims to increase safety

Due to the flammable biogas they contain, as well as the substrates and fermentation residues that are hazardous to water, biogas plants are possible sources of environmental risk. To increase the levels of safety, on 21st January 2019 the German Federal Environment Ministry published the new Technical Regulation for Plant Safety entitled the "Safety Requirements for Biogas Plants" (TRAS 120), in which the UBA also partook.  read more (in German)

Safety: new guides for fire-extinguishing water

In case of fire in industrial facilities, it is necessary for a sufficient quantity of fire-extinguishing water to be available. If the facility contains substances that can harm the environment and human health, during fire extinguishing operations, it is also important to prevent draining, contaminated fire-extinguishing water from entering waters, soil or groundwater. Two new guides according to the UNECE "Industrial Accident" Convention provide recommendations.  read more (in German)

Recently published

Cover of publication Framing the Third Cycling Century

Framing the Third Cycling Century

Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice

There is a tension between research and practice in the field of cycling as well as in general in environmental policy. Numerous scientific publications and knowledge do not reach the practitioners who might benefit from them. Not only was the International Cycling Conference 2017 intended to tackle this deficit with a large-scale forum, but also this publication, which takes up and continues more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of the brochure "Guide on green public procurement: Electric Bicycles" with a photo of an electric bicycle and the logo of the German Environment Agency

Guide on green public procurement: Electric Bicycles

Electric bicycles are an important environmentally and socially sustainable alternative to cars for covering distances of up to around 20 kilometres. Compared to cars, electric bicycles are more economical and at the same time healthier and more eco-friendly, and are often quicker – and indisputably space-saving. This guide is based on the June 2015 edition of the Blue Angel eco-label criteria more

Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of the brochure Guide on green public procurement: Garden Tools

Guide on green public procurement: Garden Tools

Garden tools generate noise which, in residential areas, recreational areas and elsewhere can constitute a major source of noise pollution that is often found to be highly disturbing. The Blue Angel eco-label for garden tools provides guidance that makes it easier to purchase particularly low-noise garden tools. This guide is based on the Blue Angel eco-label criteria, whose requirements are more

Number of pages
Year of publication
Titelseite des Positionspapiers "Re-Aligning European Union’s Climate Policy to the Paris Agreement" vom Dezember 2018. Oben ein Luftbild der Erde, die von einer Wolkendecke verdeckt ist, unten das Logo des Umweltbundesamtes

Re-Aligning European Union’s Climate Policy to the Paris Agreement

Short-term Implications of the IPCC Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C”

By 2020, the Parties to the Paris Agreement should communicate or submit new, updated nationally determined contributions (NDC). For this exercise, the findings of the IPCC Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” are especially relevant. In this light, a position paper of the German Environment Agency outlines how climate policy could be calibrated towards limiting warming to 1.5° more

Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of brochure Cover Sewage Sludge Disposal

Sewage Sludge Disposal in the Federal Republic of Germany

The novel sewage sludge ordinance entered into force on 03/10/2017. Therefore for wastewater treatment plants with more than 100,000 respectively 50,000 populations equivalents the utilization of sewage sludge on soil is only possible until 2029 respectively 2032. Afterwards phosphorus recovery is mandatory for sludge with minimum 20 g phosphorus/ kg as well as for sewage sludge ashes. Even more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of publication The need for soil protection legislation at EU level

The need for soil protection legislation at EU level

Position paper of the German Environment Agency German Environment

The Position paper begins by discussing options on how to further develop EU soil protection law. Compared to the status-quo, strengthening the existing soil protection legislation at EU level would preserve transboundary ecosystem services of soils and also help to effectively implement the ‘land degradation neutrality’ objective. More specifically, the Position paper clarifies the advantages more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover der Fachbroschüre Urban Environmental Protection

Urban Environmental Protection

The strategic research agenda of the German Environment Agency

With this strategic research agenda, UBA identifies future research priorities for the development of urban areas which are based on environmental quality goals. Interfaces between disciplines and knowledge gaps in environmentally-oriented, socially responsible and health-promoting urban development are more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of publication Texte 02/2019 Environmental impacts on biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Environmental impacts on biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic hydrocarbons, which are released to the atmosphere by plants (biogenic ⁠VOC⁠, BVOC), have large influence on atmospheric chemistry and thus air quality. They are beside nitrogen oxides and anthropogenic VOC eminent precursors for tropospheric ozone and may also foster the creation of aerosols. This literature review summarizes the current knowledge about more

Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover der Publikation Texte 106/2018 Impacts of Heavy Metal Emission on Air Quality and Ecosystems across Germany – Sources, Transport, Deposition and potential Hazards

Impacts of Heavy Metal Emission on Air Quality and Ecosystems across Germany – Sources, Transport, Deposition and potential Hazards

Part 1: Assessment of the atmospheric heavy metal deposition to terrestrial ecosystems in Germany

The study investigates spatial and temporal trends of airborn deposition of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium and zinc in Germany using modelled and measured data, among these results of bioaccumulation surveys. A risk assessment is provided by comparing the results with environment quality targets and criteria from more

Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of publication TEXTE 05/2019 Resource and Climate Protection through integrated Waste Management Projects in Emerging Economies and Developing Countries – Example India

Resource and Climate Protection through integrated Waste Management Projects in Emerging Economies and Developing Countries – Example India

On the example of the Indian cities of Bangalore, Bhopal and Haridwar, it is explained which climate protection potential the introduction of integrated waste management in emerging and developing countries holds. In order to describe the waste management systems of the 3 cities, unavailable data was completed by local expertise and assumptions. Greenhouse gas balances according to the LCA more

Number of pages
Year of publication
Cover of publication Texte 112/2018 Shaping Sustainable Chemicals Management: Refinement of the Chemical Leasing Sustainability Criteria and Application in Case Studies

Shaping Sustainable Chemicals Management: Refinement of the Chemical Leasing Sustainability Criteria and Application in Case Studies

In the project experts have developed sub-criteria and indicators for the internationally agreed five sustainability criteria for Chemical Leasing. From this, both an indicator checklist and the electronic instrument SMART 5 were developed. The checklist allows a qualitative assessment. With SMART 5, users can capture quantitative values and generate an overall view of their Chemical Leasing more

Number of pages
Year of publication

As recounted


Germany produced a total of 906.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2017 – 4.4 million tonnes (0.5%) less than in 2016, and 27.5% less than in 1990. These are the results of inventory calculations which the German Environment Agency (UBA) has submitted to the European Commission. “By 2030 emissions must be cut to at least 55 percent below 1990 levels, and to 70 percent by 2040. The transport sector in particular continues to be moving in the wrong direction: emissions rose once again and are already two percent higher than in 1990. Ever increasing numbers of vehicles, more road freight transport and ever larger and heavier cars of course increase emissions. Something must finally be done in this sector,” said UBA’s President Maria Krautzberger.



Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency)
Präsidialbereich / Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, Internet; Pressesprecher
Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
Phone: +49(0) 340 2103-2416
Fax: +49(0) 340 2103-2285

Corinne Meunier

Six times a year our Newsletter „UBA aktuell“ provides information about the latest activities and work of the German Environment Agency (UBA).

Privacy policy

Created on

The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment