Car-free days, free public transport, e-cargo bike trials – Since its launch in 2002, more and more municipalities as well as companies, associations and educational institutions have been taking part in European Mobility Week (EMW). The German Environment Agency (UBA) is launching the first nationwide competition this year to honour this commitment. read more
The transportation sector in the EU accounts for more than one third of the energy used in the Community and is responsible for more than 25 percent of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Steadily growing levels of traffic, particularly in the commercial transport sector, in all probability cancel out the savings that can potentially be realized from improved engine technologies and the use of alternative fuels. Traffic generates not only greenhouse gases, but also particulate matter and NOx, which constitute a serious health hazard. It also generates noise, which at high levels is disturbing or even unhealthy for many people, not to mention its negative impact on quality of life.
Around five percent of Germany’s surface area is currently used for traffic – which means that we’re very far from the goal of cutting land use to 30 hectares daily for human settlements and transport infrastructures.
The fact that traffic noise occurs virtually everywhere and all the time is mainly attributable to increased transport, plus the growing number of noise pollution point sources such as lawn blowers and large outdoor events. Another factor is that many people have become much more susceptible to environmental pollution, particularly when it comes to noise. Noise pollution from cars, trains and aircraft can only be substantially reduced by implementing a broad and harmonized range of measures involving vehicle and road technologies, tax regulations, and traffic and urban planning.
A comprehensive sustainable mobility plan would need to (a) prioritize persuading all concerned to use eco-friendlier means of transportation; and (b) include emission reduction measures that use latest generation technologies. Such measures should aim to promote the use of quiet, low-emission vehicles, low-emission driving techniques, and eco-friendly driving routes. Supremely important in this regard is adjusting emission limits to today’s advanced technologies. Our goal is for spatial planning to be coordinated far more closely with traffic related considerations than is now the case. This would improve the quality of life in both urban and rural areas and would at the same time enable us to reach our air quality and noise reduction objectives, among others.
Energy consumption in the transportation sector should become a more important feature of the debate over the post-fossil fuel era and the shift from non-sustainable to sustainable energy resources. To this end and in the interest of reducing our carbon footprint, we need to incrementally increase our supply of renewable energy for the transportation sector.
The continuous monitoring necessary to achieve this energy supply objective, as well as scenarios for greener transportation in Germany, will be enabled by instruments such as the Transport Emission Model (TREMOD). This tool provides a key database for transportation sector emission reporting within Germany and internationally, as well as for various environmental representations for the scientific and business communities, in that it allows for analyses of all transportation modalities. TREMOD also lays the groundwork for the elaboration of concepts that embrace all forms of transportation such as multi-modality, increased energy efficiency, and innovative ways to power the motor vehicles of tomorrow.
In view of the fact that one of the mainstays of sustainable mobility is without a doubt the bicycle, at the behest of the Federal Transport Ministry and under the aegis of Germany’s national bicycle transportation master plan, since 2008 we have been lending our support to and overseeing projects such as publicity campaigns, research, traffic safety improvement programs and much more – all with the aim of getting our fellow citizens to use bicycles as much as possible for their daily transportation needs.
Our nation needs to adopt an environmentally sane and sustainable attitude toward vehicular traffic and the noise and pollution it generates. This necessitates a dialogue involving all sections of society concerning both urban and rural development in Germany – a dialogue that we at the UBA intend to be active participants in, in keeping with our responsibility to safeguard public health and the environment.
Underwater noise affects penguins just like whales and dolphins
The world's oceans are becoming increasingly burdened by man-made noise. This noise can disturb or even harm marine animals. An international research project entitled "Hearing in penguins", which is funded by the German Environment Agency (UBA), shows that penguins, just like whales and seals, also hear and react to noise in the sea. read more
State of the environment 2020: German Environment Agency draws a mixed picture
The "Environmental Monitor" for 2020 from the German Environment Agency (UBA) draws a mixed picture of the condition of the environment in Germany. While there have been recent improvements in air quality or greenhouse gases, other indicators fare poorly. read more
Two German municipalities among the group of finalists for the international European Mobility Week awards
The EU Commission will award prizes within the framework of EMW in two categories to the municipalities with the most innovative and ambitious programmes. An international jury draws up a shortlist of finalists. Two German cities are among the finalists this year. read more
Ground-level engine emissions are greatest source of ultrafine particle pollution at airports
Airborne ultrafine particles can be harmful to human health. A study by the German Environment Agency (UBA) at Frankfurt Airport has demonstrated that ultrafine particle (UFP) load in the vicinity of airports can be significantly elevated. Engine emissions are shown to be the major cause, contributing 90 per cent of total load. read more
European Mobility Week: Zero-emission mobility for all
Zero-emission mobility should be possible for all. However, the current German transportation system penalises far too many population groups who, for example, suffer from a lack of accessibility or live on busy roads. During European Mobility Week from September 16-22, 93 towns and cities in Germany will show how mobility can be organised in a socially just manner. read more
Current transport policy puts people with low income at a disadvantage
Today's transportation system in Germany shows numerous social injustices, says a position paper by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Low-income households in particular are disadvantaged, for example because they more frequently live on roads with higher traffic volumes and thus higher noise and air pollution levels - even though they often do not drive. read more
Infrasound at or under perception threshold does not cause acute physical reactions
An experimental study by the German Environment Agency (UBA) found no correlation between infrasound immissions at or below the perception threshold and acute reactions on the human body. However, the test persons classified the infrasound sounds as "somewhat" to "moderately" annoying. read more