Germany's courts uphold clean air rights

Germany’s courts uphold clean air rights

The courts in Munich have this week delivered the latest victory for clean air in Europe.

In its judgment on Wednesday, the Bavarian Administrative Court ordered the state to take more effective measures to bring air pollution within legal levels under EU law.

The two cases ruled on were brought by two German NGOs with the support of ClientEarth. They centre on the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which in built-up areas comes mostly from diesel vehicles.

The Bavarian authorities have been given a year to adopt strong measures that will bring levels of pollution, specifically NO2, down – or face a fine.

ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “This is another victory for clean air in Europe. People have the right to breathe clean air and, where governments are failing to uphold that right, the courts are doing so.

“We will continue to work with colleagues in Europe and beyond to ensure the right to clean air.”

Lessons from the Bavarian case

ClientEarth’s case against the UK government for its failure to produce plans to bring air pollution in the UK within legal limits as soon as possible, despite a UK Supreme Court order to do so, will be heard in the High Court on 18 and 19 October.

Alan added: “A key part of the ruling in Munich was that the court considered 2025 to be too late to bring air pollution within legal levels. The UK government’s current predictions for this country show that London will still have illegal air pollution at that time.

“It also warns that drastic measures are necessary. This would include actions like banning diesel vehicles from town and city centres. The UK government’s current plans do not consider any such options – they should read the Bavarian Administrative Court’s decision carefully.”

The German NGOs involved in the Bavarian case were Deutsche Umwelhilfe and Verkehrsclub Deutschland.

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