No.: 5/2017Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear reader,

It is time for the air quality in every German city to be good enough to comply with the nitrogen dioxide limit value which applies in the EU. Concentrations over the limit are a health hazard, in particular for people who suffer asthma. UBA has taken a closer look at what the decisions reached at the Diesel Summit on 2 August 2017 can do to help the situation. Read about it here in the latest edition of our newsletter.

This edition of our UBA Aktuell newsletter is about responsible resource management, reducing Substances of Very High Concern in consumer goods and, of course, about climate action. Our new background paper on the Montreal Protocol shows what humankind can achieve to solve global environmental problems when nations unite and take concerted action. The Montreal Protocol, signed 30 years ago, has become a true success story: all 197 member states of the United Nations acceded and by thus ensuring the phase-out of CFCs, the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful UV radiation, is actually recovering.

We wish you interesting reading.

Yours sincerely,

Press Office at the German Environment Agency

Diesel cars: Software updates are not enough for clean air

Eine Abgasanlage, aus der Abgase entweichen.
Road traffic is the major source of nitrogen dioxide in cities.
Source: Stefan Redel / Fotolia

Diesel cars with the emission standard Euro 5 and 6 will have between 15 and 25 per cent lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions after having a software update. This is according to calculations made by UBA following the Diesel Summit on 2 August 2017. The update is a first but insufficient step when considering the poor starting point of the vehicles concerned: a Euro 5 diesel-powered car currently has average NOx emissions of 906 milligrams per kilometre, which would be reduced by 25 percent through a software update to about 680 milligrams – the same level as the average of a Euro 4 diesel car, and thus still four times higher than the Euro 5 limit value. UBA estimates claim that the software updates can reduce the NOx emissions of the entire passenger car fleet in Germany by between three and seven per cent.

The switchover premium for diesel cars which manufacturers are currently offering has only a small potential to improve air quality. This is because even new Euro 6a, 6b and 6c diesel cars have average NOx emissions of 507 milligrams per kilometre under normal driving conditions, which is more than six times the limit value for NOx. In effect, air quality could become worse because the premium could also reward switchovers to a diesel which is 'dirtier' than the original car. Example: trading in a supermini for an SUV with high fuel consumption.

UBA’s President Maria Krautzberger said: "In nearly 70 cities across Germany those measures are not likely to be enough to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air to below the annual mean limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. Only roughly 20 cities where pollution levels are currently just below the limit will benefit from the decisions adopted at the Diesel Forum and finally comply with the European limit in effect already since 2010.”

Further measures are therefore necessary to avoid the imposition of driving bans in inner cities. In addition to a premium that promotes only vehicles which are truly clean on the road, UBA considers hardware retrofitting to be another important measure to achieve clean air in urban areas. The hardware solution concerns so-called SCR catalytic converters which use a urea solution (AdBlue®) with which diesel vehicles are retrofitted. An expert group formed at the Diesel Summit and led by the Federal Ministry of Transport is currently investigating the number of vehicles which can actually be retrofitted.

Consumer tips

Too much nitrate in groundwater, but 'all clear' for drinking water!

Wherever farming is practiced in Germany the ground water has too much nitrate. Tap water, however, is safe. Thanks to Germany's water utilities. read more (in German)

UBA positions

Ein Traktor sprüht Pflanzenschutzmittel auf ein Feld.

Managing glyphosate effects complies with European laws

Assessing and managing the effects of glyphosate on diversity and abundance of non-target species fully complies with European and national laws. Glyphosate is expected to have a particularly strong impact on non-target organisms by disrupting food webs in agricultural areas. read more

Wasserwiederverwendung mit möglichen Risiken für die Umwelt und die menschliche Gesundheit einher

UBA Position on EU minimum requirements for Water Reuse

The EU Commission is seeking to adopt EU wide minimum quality requirements for water reuse for agricultural irrigation and groundwater recharge by the end of 2017. As the current draft falls short to set standards that are rigorous enough to protect the environment and human health, UBA has published a Scientific Opinion Paper to express its concerns and recommendations. read more

Science and research

two engineers (a women and a man) in a windfarm

Guidance for climate-friendly investment

Capital investments which target the energy, transport and building sectors can help to limit the rise in Earth’s temperatures to less than 2 degrees. A new UBA study proposes the criteria by which public financial institutions like development banks should proceed and identifies which projects should no longer be funded. read more

2016 was hottest year on record worldwide

Heat waves and record high temperatures, prolonged drought, heavy precipitation, extreme cold and record snowfall – all these phenomena are extreme weather events. Read our background paper to find out which extreme weather events have occurred in recent years. read more (in German)

Resource-efficient infrastructure

Transport, waste water management, water and energy supply, digital connectivity: infrastructure systems are vital to our modern lifestyle. But they are also resource-intensive and often have a far-reaching impact on the environment. A study has investigated which ways the technical infrastructures can be designed to be future-proof and sustainable. read more (in German)

More consideration of the environment in infrastructure planning

Large infrastructure projects such as power grids or motorways usually have a far-reaching impact on the environment. Better public demand planning can result in better protection of the environment. A new study for the German Environment Agency examines the statutory configuration of public demand planning in relation to public projects. read more (in German)

New study assesses activities in the Antarctic

As Germany's licensing authority for activities in the Antarctic the German Environment Agency (UBA) assesses research activities, cruise trips and the required logistics involved for travel to and around the South Pole. A new study for UBA discusses the current methods and equipment used in polar research as well as tourism and evaluates their potential impact on the Antarctic environment. read more (in German)

Industry & Environment

Hands in front of a laptop screen showing a trading picture.

Emissions trading: EEX holds 500th German auction of emission allowances

Since 5th January 2010, EEX has auctioned more than 900 million emission allowances on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany. Including today’s 500th auction, revenue of in total approximately EUR 6 billion has been generated. These funds have been used almost completely for financing national and international climate protection measures. read more

Gruppenbild der 10 Jurymitglieder vor dem Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin

Who has the best ecodesign in Germany?

On 11 September a panel jury of environmental and design experts made the nominations for this year's Bundespreis Ecodesign (German Ecodesign Award). Twenty submissions in the areas of architecture, energy, nutrition, home living, interior design, mobility and fashion can now hope to receive an award at an awards ceremony to be held 27 November. read more

Over hill and vale to the construction site: crawler tractor is kinder to soil and trees

Radio towers, electricity poles or wind turbines are often located in places with no road access. A project under the Federal Government's Environmental Innovation Programme has now demonstrated how a self-driving crawler tractor can transport components and machinery to these sites in an environmentally friendly way: without road-building and with less soil compaction and tree felling. read more (in German)

Chrome-look in automotive industry possible without use of heavy metals

Car trim in the chrome look is cool, but its production involves the use of the toxic heavy metal Chromium VI which is discharged to wastewater and considered hazardous waste. A project carried out under the Environmental Innovation Programme has shown that an innovative, environmentally friendly lacquer can achieve the identical effect without chromium and an even better anti-corrosion protection than conventional chromium-plating. read more (in German)

Good for climate & cost-saving: intelligent use of waste heat in companies

Waste heat escapes unused in many production facilities all while costly energy is being supplied on the other hand. A project completed under the Environmental Innovation Programme at a factory which produces OSB boards shows how this waste heat can be put to good use – even if it does not reach the required temperature. read more (in German)

Environment at municipal level

Cities and universities are using more recycled paper

100 cities and 39 universities participated in the 10th national Papieratlas (Paper Atlas) competition – more than ever before. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks named the city of Solingen and the University of Osnabrück "Most recycled paper-friendly city/university". read more (in German)

Expert talks on environmental justice: documents are online

In June 2017 the Federal Ministry for Environment held expert talks on the guidelines and recommendations for action to create more environmental justice. Delegates from environmental associations and other civil society organizations, the federal government, the Länder and local authorities discussed joint agenda setting and priority action areas. Conference proceedings are now available online.  read mor (in German)

Environment at international level

Ein Barcode auf einem Produkt wir mit einem Smartphone gescannt

Chemicals in articles: EU LIFE Projekt AskREACH started

Certain substances are harmful to man and the environment. The AskREACH project will raise awareness on Substances of Very High Concern in articles among the European population, retailers and industry. Consumers can use a smartphone app to get information on such substances or send requests for information to suppliers. The European Chemicals Regulation REACH provides the legal framework. read more

firemen with boats on a river

International action for more protection in a hazardous incident

UBA is engaged in transboundary efforts to improve the protection of man and the environment, for example in the case of fires at industrial facilities or oil spills. In September 2017 UBA launched a joint emergency exercise with the German and Polish fire brigade and organised a seminar on how to prevent transboundary pollution by contaminated fire-water. read more

participants of the workshop repairing computers

Waste management in Russia and other CIS countries

The Advisory Assistance Programme of UBA has been supporting the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States for many years in the development of effective waste management structures. Seminars and workshops held in May and June 2017 provided targeted information and training for stakeholders from government, industry and non-governmental organizations. read more

Law & legislation

container ship on the sea

Shipping companies must report greenhouse gas emissions

In an initial step to reduce climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport, shipping companies must monitor and report their emissions starting 01.01.2018. The German Emissions Trading Authority at UBA (DEHSt) is the competent authority for emissions monitoring in Germany. read more

used electrical and electronic equipment like computers and mobile phones

WEEE: EU-wide enforcement of producer responsibility

The agencies from nearly 20 EU countries responsible for the enforcement of the European WEEE Directive have formed a network. UBA initiated the constitutional meeting on 7-8 September 2017. The representatives from all participating EU-countries agreed to cooperate more closely in the future in order to prosecute non-compliant producers who trade across borders more effectively. read more

Nano structures

First OECD Test Guideline on the investigation of nanomaterials

The OECD Test Guideline No. 318 features the very first standardized test method particular for nanomaterials adopted by OECD. It is one important component needed for the adaptation of nanospecific requirements for environmental risk assessment applied within legislations on chemical safety. read more

Montreal Protocol, 30 years on: Protecting the ozone layer and climate

24 states and the European Community signed the Montreal Protocol on 16 September 1987. It signaled the obligatory phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and thus halted the continued depletion of the ozone layer by these substances. The substitution of CFCs which have a high Global Warming Potential is positive climate action. read more (in German)

Ballast Water Management Convention: Stowaways have no chance

Thirteen years after its adoption in 2004 the international Ballast Water Management Convention finally entered into force on 8 September 2017. The Convention addresses the problem of the water which ships take on and later discharge for stabilization but which transports marine species outside of their natural habitats. read more (in German)

UBA News

Forum on Food Waste: Reduction only works in a joint effort

Too much food ends up in the waste bin, agreed the participants at an UBA expert forum on food waste. More than 70 stakeholders from industry, research and politics had the opportunity to discuss ways to reduce food waste in Berlin on 5 September 2017. Stakeholders must all work together to ensure that more food ends up on the table. read more (in German)

UBA Guideline: Prevention of food waste in the catering sector

New publications

Cover of the brochure "Pollutants of the PRTR - Situation in Germany - Reporting years 2007 - 2022" of the Umweltbundesamt

Pollutants of the PRTR - Situation in Germany - Reporting years 2007 - 2022

This publication provides an overview about data of the German PRTR (Pollutant Release and Transfer Register). For each pollutant, the number of reported facilities and their releases to air, water and land and their off-site transfer in waste water are clearly displayed. Data for industrial sectors of the current reporting year 2022 are summarized in tables while their developments since 2007 more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
cover of the brochure "Reverse Innovation"

Reverse Innovation

Rethinking Urban Transport through Global Learning

The joint UBA-GIZ brochure „Reverse Innovation – Rethinking Urban Transport through Global Learning“ looks into the potential of “reverse innovation” in the urban transport sector. Ten interesting innovations from developing- and emerging countries were selected, that offer relevant impulses for cities and towns in Germany. Alongside technical innovations, social, regulatory and business model more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
UBA-Building in Dessau

UBA builds answers

Positive energy building in Dessau

With this flyer, we want to present you some interesting facts and figures about our building project: a positive energy building in Dessau. For example the key project data, the architectural and the energy concept, the construction materials, the landscaping and the Percent for more

flyers and leaflets
Number of pages
Year of publication
Big Building in the nature

Haus 2019

A zero-energy building in operation

The UBA office building "Haus 2019" in Berlin, planned and built in 2009 to 2013, was the first zero-energy building of the German Federal Governnment. Get to know more about the monitoring results of the first few years of operation, about the key project data and the architectural and energy more

flyers and leaflets
Number of pages
Year of publication
Two Persons in a city.

Tomorrow‘s Cities

Big cities are by definition exciting, diverse and vibrant, but also loud and crowded, claustrophobic and exhausting. How do we want to live in our cities in the future? Is it at all possible to create an urban environment with environmentally friendly transport, low noise levels, green spaces and a functional mix? Yes, such a city is possible. Our brochure explains how an environment with more

brochure / flyer
Number of pages
Year of publication
Two pinguins in the snow

Visitor Guidelines for the Antarctic

4rd edition

You are visiting the Antarctic for private or professional reasons? You are about to discover the “White Continent” for the first time or you are planning a revisit? We wish you a pleasant journey – and would like to contribute with these guidelines to a safe and environmentally sustainable stay in the more

guides and manuals
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piwi and the plastic soup

PIWI and the plastic soup

The Pool-Cleaning-Robot PIWI (Pool-Intelligent-Water-Inspector) PIWI 3.14 keeps his pool clean and ship-shape and is quite happy. However his friend, Wilma the cat, confuses the issue when she tells him what the next stream looks like. The two of them get on their way to sort things out.But that is not the only job, as the stream flows into the river and the river into the sea. Everywhere PIWI more

children´s book
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What exactly does …

… the noise laboratory at UBA do?

View of UBA noise laboratory with special microphones

View of UBA noise laboratory with special microphones
Source: Steffen Körper / UBA

Noise is an annoyance and long-term exposure can make people ill. But what is noise, and how is it tested and assessed?

The UBA headquarters in Dessau-Roßlau has an open-area sound measurement laboratory where precision microphones can measure and assess noise without interferences and reflections. The measurement results help us to determine the frequencies which characterizes sounds and its propagation.
Examples of what the "noise lab" investigates:

  • How can noise from household devices and gardening equipment be measured and compared with each other and thus provide meaningful information?
  • Are the conventional units of measurement and procedures sufficient to evaluate the great variety of noise situations?

The measurement results are applied to further develop existing noise protection guidelines. We derive the criteria for low-noise products which are awarded by the Blue Angel ecolabel. In addition, the noise laboratory can help to demonstrate how loud noise is perceived – for example with sound clips are suitable for use in classroom instruction. Tests have shown that a computer with a 30-decibel noise level sounds half as loud as a 40-decibel movie projector. These and other sounds are what we listen to in the "noise lab".


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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