No.: 3/2017Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear reader, 

It is not a matter of just a few vehicle types and their emissions. In fact, Euro 6 diesel cars in general exceed the limit for nitrogen oxide emissions by multiple times. And yet, they still benefit from subsidies for diesel fuel worth billions. And from our perspective, it is also wrong in terms of climate protection. Read more about this in the latest issue of “UBA aktuell”.

Our new video clip and vision for the city of the future show how life can work in cities also with significantly fewer cars and therefore lower emissions, noise and roads choked with parked cars.

We would also like to introduce you to our new smartphone app: simply scan the barcode of any consumer product to start an enquiry about whether it contains any “Substances of Very High Concern” according to the European chemicals legislation REACH.

We wish you interesting reading.

Yours sincerely,

Press Office at the German Environment Agency 

Even new diesels pollute the air considerably – and do not help with climate protection

exhaust pipe of a car
The real nitrogen oxide emissions of Euro 6 diesel cars are significantly above the Euro 6 limit.
Source: Stefan Redel /

Diesel cars that meet the current Euro 6 European emission standard emit – under real operating conditions on the road – six times more harmful nitrogen oxide than permitted. This is the sad conclusion of a recent analysis of car exhaust emission measurements carried out on behalf of the German Environment Agency. The fact that emissions on the road are so much higher than during type approval testing is significantly due to the unrealistic laboratory testing conditions: Chassis dynamometers are operated at temperatures between 20 and 30 degree Celsius while average German temperatures are much lower. The exhaust after-treatment system often does not work sufficiently outside test conditions and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions increase sharply.

UBA's President Maria Krautzberger says: "We must have clean air in cities. It is very clear that the automotive industry must assume responsibility and deliver a solution which consumers can live with." The European Union has already responded: from September 2017, new vehicle types will also be tested for approval based on the RDE (Real Driving Emission) method in addition to the laboratory tests. The RDE method measures emissions during driving on the road. The purpose is to ensure that exhaust after-treatment works under many operating conditions and only little NOx is emitted.

Initially nitrogen emissions of vehicles may exceed the “laboratory limit” of 80 milligrams per kilometer during RDE-testing: 110 % (up to 168 mg / km) exceedance will be allowed, and from January 2020 50 % (up to 120 mg / km) is still legal due to measurement uncertainties. Current legislation for total emitted particle number of new diesel and gasoline (direct injection) vehicle types limits the excess during RDE-testing straight to 50 % starting September 2017.

From UBA’s perspective, the subsidization of diesel fuel has to be put on trial, too. In the passenger car sector subsidies sum up to EUR 3.5 billion for the German taxpayer. Even with the deduction of higher annual car taxes for diesel cars (compared to gasoline vehicles), diesel car owners are exempted from roughly 1.5 billion euros in tax per year. Even though Euro-6 diesel cars emit roughly 25 times more NOx than modern gasoline models. The argument that the subsidization of diesel vehicles is for the benefit of climate protection also does not stand up: in 2015 the CO2 emissions of newly registered diesel cars were on a par with those of newly registered gasoline-fueled cars, both standing at 130 grams per kilometer. In theory, diesel cars do have an advantage of 15 % in CO2 emission compared to gasoline cars equipped with the same power output. However, this benefit gets eaten up as it is compensated by the introduction of the fuel-guzzling SUV concept and oversized engines on German roads. A zero-sum game for the climate.

Consumer tips

Scan4Chem app makes enquiries regarding product-chemicals easier

Consumers have a right to know whether and which “Substances of Very High Concern” are contained in products. They can ask the product vendors about this but this has been somewhat cumbersome up to now. It is now much easier to enquire using the “Scan4Chem” app from the German Environment Agency. read more (in German)

Video clip: Traffic in urban areas

Cleaner air, less noise and more space and green in urban areas – this is only possible with fewer cars. For people to continue to be as mobile as they are at the moment, alternatives to using your own car have to be made much more attractive. Our video clip shows problems and solutions. read more (in German)

UBA positions

plastic waste in the water

EU Plastics Strategy needs to consider environmental issues

Plastic waste is a major threat to the marine environment. But how to tackle this problem? The EU Plastics Strategy that is being discussed in the upcoming months can help reduce the input of plastics to the environment if it follows seven recommendations of the European environment agencies. read more

Science and research

Ragweed and co.: UBA project on allergies and climate change

Allergies are a growing health problem worldwide. Climate change appears to be a critical factor for this trend, in particular for pollen allergies. As part of a study on allergies and climate change, allergy patients from two German states with different regional climates were examined for their sensitivity to ragweed and olive. read more (in German) 

Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions hardly changed in 2015

The emission of energy-related greenhouse gases, which are mainly generated by electricity and heat production, practically remained virtually unchanged in 2015 (minus 0.3 percent) compared to the previous year. However, the trend is clearly downwards: the energy sector, industry, transport, commerce, retail and services as well as private households emitted a quarter less in 2015 than in 1990. read more (in German

CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour of electricity are decreasing

The CO2 emissions of electricity consumed per kilowatt hour in Germany has dropped over the last few years, among other things due to the growing percentage of renewable energy sources in the electricity mix. While a kilowatt hour of electricity still produced 564 grams of CO2 on average in 2014, the UBA is assuming 534 grams for 2015 based on preliminary data. Estimates for 2016 anticipate 527 grams. read more (in German) 

Protecting fish from turbines and other hazards

Dangers lurk for the fish in our rivers: rotating turbines, drops at weirs or the suction of water abstractions can be life threatening for fish – and in the worst case have an impact on the entire population and therefore ecosystems. The “Fish Protection and Fish Passage Forum” at the German Environment Agency draws up recommendations on how these hazards can be reduced. read more (in German) 

Counting penguins by satellite and drones

A new study on behalf of the German Environment Agency lays the foundation for the systematic recording of penguin colonies in the Antarctic using remote sensing. With the help of satellite images and drones, colonies can now be found and their size can be established to get a better understanding of the current climate-related changes to the penguin population in the Antarctic. read more (in German) 

Industry & environment


Emissions trading: Emissions reductions in Germany only minimal

The roughly 1,900 fixed installations participating in emissions trading in 2016 had emissions worth 453 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents, or 0.6 per cent less than in 2015. The lower emissions in the emissions trading sector thus did not offset the 3.8-per cent increase over 2015 in Germany’s transport sector emissions which the UBA had calculated in its short-term forecast. read more

Old water tower becomes Germany’s first zero-energy high-rise

Older and unusual structures can also achieve the zero-energy building standard with energy-saving modernisation, which means yielding as much energy as they consume calculated over the year. Using funding from the Environmental Innovation Programme, a construction company in Radolfzell by Lake Constance converted a decommissioned water tower built in 1956 into a thirteen-storey hotel. read more (in German) 

Incidents from 2012 to 2014: the chemicals industry was most frequently affected

ZEMA registered 56 incidents and disturbances of normal operation in German industrial plants between 2012 and 2014 – most of them at chemical plants. Read more about it in the current annual report from the Central Reporting and Evaluation Office for Major Accidents and Incidents in Process Engineering Facilities (ZEMA) at the German Environment Agency. read more (in German) 

Digital printing saves energy and resources

Valuable resources and energy can be saved by switching from gravure printing to digital printing for the production of decorative papers, for example for furniture fronts or wood-effect laminate. A completed Environmental Innovation Programme project now demonstrates this. read more (in German)

Environment at municipal level

The city of the future: the vision

Environmentally-friendly mobility, little noise, green, compact and mixed – that’s what the city of the future looks like. Our 15 modules bring life to the vision and show how this works in concrete terms. The order of the modules is irrelevant; every reader can choose their own personal sequence for their unique ideal vision. read more (in German) 

Intelligently linking bike and car sharing to public transport

Up to 3,500 tonnes of CO2 could be saved throughout Germany every day by shifting private car journeys to sharing opportunities intelligently linked to public transport. A current study on behalf of the UBA reveals this. Cities also benefit from innovative mobility offers: due to less emissions and noise and newly acquired open spaces as a result of axed parking spaces. read more (in German) 

The City of Aachen’s sewer becomes a source of heat for residential buildings

Whether it’s showering or washing laundry – there’s valuable heat in waste water. The gewoge AG residential property company and STAWAG Energie GmbH, a subsidiary of Aachen’s public utilities, are making use of this: with funding from the Environmental Innovation Programme they have converted five residential buildings and replaced the gas heating with a centralised heat and hot water supply using waste heat from waste water and exhaust air. read more (in German) 

3x3 messages for participation in projects relevant to the environment

How can public participation contribute to projects that are relevant to the environment, such as bypasses, grids or pumped-storage power plants, being planned better and approved? The “3x3 public participation” publication drafted on behalf of the German Environment Agency contains nine messages to project sponsors and authorities regarding this. read more (in German) 

Environment at international level

Law & legislation

New Packaging Act

The Packaging Act was passed by the Federal Council on 12 May and it has therefore cleared the last hurdle. The German Environment Agency welcomes the fact that more packaging will be recycled with the new Packaging Act due to higher recycling rates and differentiated licence fees for better recyclable packaging. However, it is regrettable that the recycling bin is not compulsory. read more (in German) 

UBA News

Emissions trading: redesigned DEHSt website

The website of the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) at the German Environment Agency has a new design. The most important new feature is that our website now automatically adjusts to your screen and is therefore much better to use on a smartphone too. read more (in German) 

Search for family-friendly employers in Dessau-Roßlau

UBA is offering an award with the “Family-friendly employment” employer initiative in Dessau-Roßlau read more (in German) 

New Publications

Cover of the publication "Guidelines for Climate Impact and Vulnerability Assessments" of the Umweltbundesamt

Guidelines for Climate Impact and Vulnerability Assessments

Recommendations of the Interministerial Working Group on Adaptation to Climate Change of the German Federal Government

These guidelines of the Interministerial Working Group on Adaptation to Climate Change of the German Federal Government (IMA Adaptation) provide methodological recommendations for the execution of climate impact and vulnerability assessments at regional and national level. They are intended to support the methodical preparatory work. The guidelines are aimed at federal and state (Land) more

guides and manuals
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Cover with Title and a picture of water

Protecting the sources of our drinking water from mobile chemicals

A revised proposal for implementing criteria and an assessment procedure to identify Persistent, Mobile and Toxic (PMT) and very Persistent, very Mobile (vPvM) substances registered under REACH

Protecting the sources of our drinking water from any threats caused by chemicals is of the utmost importance. A strategy is needed in order to allow Europe’s chemical industry to continue to innovate while ensuring the protection of the water cycle. The German Environment Agency (UBA) is carrying out an initiative to identify those substances that are persistent (P) in the environment, mobile more

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Titelbild Position May 2017

Strategies against obsolescence Ensuring a minimum product lifetime and improving product service life as well as consumer information

Studies on behalf of the German Environment Agency have shown, that most electrical appliances are being used for a decreasing amount of time than 10 years ago. Products that are replaced before they reached optimal product life-time or usage time (so-called obsolescence), lead to an increasing loss of resources and volume of waste. For this reason the German Environment Agency recognizes the more

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Cover of publication 44/2017 fish and invertebrates and their detection by newly developed in vitro-bioassays

EFF-Pharm: Effects of pharmaceuticals (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and beta-blockers) in fish and invertebrates and their detection by newly developed in vitro-bioassays

As tools for environmental monitoring of pharmaceuticals, mode of action -based in vitro-assays were developed for beta-blockers as metoprolol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as diclofenac. In order to validate these tests for their suitability to reflect in vivo-effects in aquatic organisms, toxicity tests and biomarker studies were conducted with fish, crustaceans, snails and more

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Cover of publication 45/2017 Establishment of a concept for comparative risk assessment of plant protection products with special focus on the risks to the environment

Establishment of a concept for comparative risk assessment of plant protection products with special focus on the risks to the environment

The EU regulation 1107/2009 introduces the substitution principle for active substances in plant protection products that meet certain human or environmental hazard criteria. For products containing such candidates for substitution, their risk must be compared to alternative products during authorisation procedure. This report presents an approach for comparative risk assessment based on a more

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Cover of publication 30/2017 Monitoring penguin colonies in the Antarctic using remote sensing data

Monitoring penguin colonies in the Antarctic using remote sensing data

In the context of the already observed population changes at specific time intervals and the shift in penguin breeding sites because of global warming and the fluctuations in availability of food, the report presents the methodical tools for an area-wide penguin monitoring of Antarctic penguins by remote sensing. In order to gain insight into current and future populations of Antarctic penguin more

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Cover of Publikation Climate Change 14/2017

Submission under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol 2017

National Inventory Report for the German Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 – 2015

As a Party to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), since 1994 Germany has been obliged to prepare, publish and regularly update national emission inventories of greenhouse gases. Pursuant to Decision 24/CP.19, all Parties listed in ANNEX I of the UNFCCC are required to prepare and submit annual National Inventory Reports (NIRs) containing detailed and complete information more

Climate Change
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Cover of publication 40/2017 Suitability of laboratory simulation tests for the identification of persistence in surface waters

Suitability of laboratory simulation tests for the identification of persistence in surface waters

The intention of the project is to verify whether simulation tests in the laboratory are suitable for extrapolation to degradation in surface water. The main aspect is the classification as persistent in the environment. Persistent substances can be transported over long distances in water courses and can be distributed over various environmental compartments. Degradation half-life values more

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Cover of publikation Texte 34/2017 Validation of reproduction tests with molluscs

Validation of reproduction tests with molluscs - Establishment of an OECD test guideline for the identification of endocrine and reproductive toxic effects in snails

Reproduction tests with molluscs – new OECD test guideline developed and validatedAlthough molluscs respond particularly sensitive to many pollutants, no standard tests with representatives of this species-rich phylum was established for routine chemical testing in Europe so far. A standardized OECD partial life-cycle test method (No. 242) with the mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum was more

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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).

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