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Cars and trucks still big polluters in Germany

August 4, 2015

Germany's Federal Environment Agency says cars and trucks on the country's roads are still a major source of greenhouse gases. A new report shows transport is the only sector where emissions are continuing to rise.

Deutschland Autobahn LKW
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Friederichs

The agency's "Data on the Environment" report, released Tuesday, found that transport was the only sector in Germany that hadn't seen a drop in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Instead, the levels had actually increased.

According to the agency's data, transport is responsible for around 18 percent of the country's climate-damaging emissions. And the bulk of that amount is produced by vehicles on roads.

"We're moving in the wrong direction," the agency's president, Maria Krautzberger, told reporters in Berlin.

Between 2000 and 2013, freight transport on German roads increased by almost a third, the report said. Krautzberger warned that there needed to be some "urgent" changes, with more efforts made to move goods across Germany and Europe by ship and rail, rather than by road. She added that there could be emissions limits set for trucks, as well as a truck toll for vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tons.

Too many cars

The report also found there had been a trend toward consumers buying larger and more powerful cars, which had effectively canceled out the impact of more environmentally friendly car engines.

Deutschland Maria Krautzberger
Maria Krautzberger has called for there to be traffic limits in GermanyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka

"We've noticed that many technical improvements and the trend toward more fuel-efficient vehicles have made little difference," Krautzberger said. "The volume of traffic is growing."

The report wasn't all bad news, though. The agency found that the concentration of dangerous particulate matter and nitrogen in the air had decreased. There was also praise for Germans' recycling rates, which at 79 percent are among the best in Europe.

nm/jil (Reuters, AFP, KNA, epd)