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Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital of Germany and with 3.4 million citizens also Germany’s largest city. It is located in the eastern part of Germany, 70km west of the Polish border. For several decades until 1990, the city had been divided into the eastern and western part and since is its reunification has undergone a quick and vibrant transformation into the city that we see today.

The city of Berlin was at the top of the last ranking, due to its focused and comprehensive policies, such as its Low emission zone. However, due to budgetary difficulties the city was not able to keep its good position.

Overall Grade: C 76%

Pie Chart 76
  • Graph Reduction Success Local Emissions
  • Graph Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters
  • Graph Public Procurement Clean Cars
  • Graph Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources
  • Graph Use of Economic Incentives
  • Graph Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split
  • Graph Promotion of Public Transport
  • Graph Promotion of Walking & Cycling
  • Graph Transparency & Communication Policy


Reduction Success Local Emissions

Berlin shows no clear reduction trend since 2008. Daily exeedances of PM10 have even increased in single years at measuring stations with high traffic volumes. Daily limit values were exceeded at some stations in 2014, but annual mean concentrations could be considerably reduced below the EU limit value of 40 µg/m3 to 32 µg/m3.

Nevertheless, NO2 concentrations (annual means) are still slightly higher than the EU threshold. But if the reduction trend of the last years is going to be continued compliance will be reached during the next two years (2014: 42 µg/m3 NO2 at station Frankfurter Allee). Other measuring stations show higher exceedances of NO2.

More information on air monitoring (Ger.):…

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

A Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was introduced on January 1, 2008. Strictest standards were introduced in Januray 2010, demanding Euro 4 standard or better. The LEZ covers the inner city: 88 km2 and one third of inhabitants. Thanks to a close monitoring and strict enforcement, the LEZ has led to significant emission reductions. Soot emissions from exhaust pipes decreased by more than 50% and NOx by about 20%. The composition of the vehicles changed and about 90% of the cars driving in Berlin both inside and outside the LEZ had a minimum of Euro 4 standard. Berlin has demonstrated the positive effects by intensive measuring and data evaluation programmes. This contributed to the fact that opponents have lost all court cases against introducing or upgrading LEZ. All exemptions will run out by 2015. Berlin demands measures on national level to incentivise Euro 6 cars.

Further information (Ger.):……

Public Procurement Clean Cars

All new municipal cars need to be equipped with a diesel particle filter (DPF) and where possible best-available emission standards. The bus fleet in Berlin is completely equipped with diesel particulate filters for 10 years already. Buses are planned to be almost completely modernised to Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicle (EEV) standard. New bus acquisitions are tendered with Euro VI requirements where possible. About 100 buses with Euro III standard were retrofitted with NO2-reducing Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) filter systems by 2013 in order to reach EEV standard.

The share of diesel vehicles that are equipped with particulate filters in the public fleet (excluding buses) or that have Euro V/EEV standard in public institutions increased from 25 % in 2008 to 50-100% depending on the kind of institution.

One fourth of the city’s cleaning vehicles today are fuelled with gas. 400 new utility vehicles (garbage vehicles, power sweepers etc.) will have to comply with best environmental standards, possibly by using SCR systems or hybrid engines. This policy has been codified in an administrative regulation in 2012, demanding best available emissions standards and diesel particulate filters (DPF) if available.

Measures regarding public or municipal fleet (Ger.):…

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

Since 2014 construction machinery which is used on construction sites have to fulfill emission standard IIIB/IIIA (IIIA for machines <37KW). This corresponds to the current EU standard prescribed for new machinery. Older construction machinery has to be equipped with a particulate filter.

In 2014, a two-day workshop with the producers of construction machinery and the stakeholders of the building sector, politicians and NGO representatives was organised (with more than 200 participants). The city has a funding programme to incentivise modernisation of engines: In the framework of a trial programme three passenger ships were retrofitted with particulate filter systems. Their monitoring afterwards showed positive results.

Currently, construction machinery are covered by a German legislation on emissions for combustion engines. Regarding rail transport, emission standards and diesel particle filters are part of the requirements for public bidding.

Use of Economic Incentives

No congestion charging system exists in Berlin, but the city operates an extensive parking management: the number of paid parking spaces increased to 83,000 in 2009 and 93.000 in 2012. There are 36 parking zones with special regulations for residents, guests and companies. The feasibility of reducing on-road parking spaces by 16% until 2018 is currently assessed.

A reform of the parking management was launched in 2011. In the framework of the city development plan transport (Stadtentwicklungsplan Verkehr, StepV) a masterplan parking debates expansion of parking management. Urban districts may decide against taking fees for parking in public streets (e.g. Alt-Treptow).

Further information on parking management (Ger.):

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

With its urban traffic planning strategy (Stadtentwicklungsplan Verkehr, StEP Verkehr) Berlin has developed a very comprehensive set of measures aiming at reducing car use in the city. The city has one of the lowest shares of cars per inhabitants in Germany. Private motorised transport could be reduced by 6% compared to 1998. The modal shares in 2013 are 32% cars, 27 % public transport and 13% cycling, 29 % walking. The lowest share of private motorised transport can be found in the district Berlin-Kreuzberg with 17%. Generally, the modal split has hardly changed since 2008. Only the share of bikes, pedestrians and public transport is marginally increasing in the city. Nevertheless, the long term plan is to reduce car use to 25% in 2025.

A speed limit of 30 km/h exists for large parts of residential streets. Some of the main roads are additionally reduced to 30 km/h maximum speed mainly to reduce noise. Overall, 75% of the roads in Berlin are subject to 30 km/h speed limits. That includes also 230kms of main roads, although partly temporary. The share of 30 km/h zones will be continually increased. The city also created measures for mobility management for companies, as well as for commuters, for schools and for elderly people. Car sharing is promoted by dedicated parking spaces, and several measures promote multimodal interconnectivity.

More information on mobility in Berlin (Ger.):

Promotion of Public Transport

Berlin has a good public transport system with a metro network, trams and buses. The city aims at promoting public transport and increasing its modal share. Nevertheless, it does not set ambitious targets. In the past years, the city has concentrated on renovating old network sections and stations, has increased public transport frequencies and has introduced measures for speed increase of buses and trams. The plans for the future include a further increase of metro frequencies, extensions of different tram lines and improvements in multimodal customer information. However, enormous sums of money are invested in big projects such as metro expansions on relations with already very good public transport supply (e.g. U5/U55 extension) instead of expanding the tram network. Positive is the extension of the tram line to the main station and from S-Bahn station Adlershof to Karl-Ziegler-Straße.

Compared to other cities in the ranking and compared to Berlin before 2011, the city shows little activities to expand public transport despite a continuous increase of customers. A new strategy, adopted in October 2014, contains an increase in budget and various measures to improve reliability, frequency and accessibility by 2018. This is positive and necessary, but comes very late. In the coming years the city also aims at increasing the capacity, especially in areas that experience high growth in population and rising demand of public transport for some years already.

Berlin suffers – like all other cities in Germany – from the refusal of the national government to commit to continuing the investments in public transport in cities.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

In that past decade, Berlin has experienced a long trend towards more cycling and walking. The city has improved the infrastructure for bikes in many aspects. Cycling doubled to 12% modal share by 2008 and reached 13% in 2013. The expansion of the cycling network through opening one-way streets for cyclist, and through creating new cycling routes on secondary roads, labelled by signs, was too small compared to the increasing demand. The budget increase decided in March 2015 (€4 million for new lanes and €2 million for maintenance) was too late to be included in the ranking.

No comprehensive strategy has been set to increase walking before 2011. A decision in 2011 to focus on walking has only little practical effects: running pilot projects to draft a strategy, trials for public space zones or pilot projects for pedestrian-friendly traffic and public awareness campaigns are not enough when unfriendly traffic lights for pedestrians are still the rule. Furthermore, pedestrian zones in Berlin are rare and very small.

Transparency & Communication Policy

The city provides online information on air quality, including daily and annual limit values. It also provides online background information, a phone hotline and a low emission zone ‘mailbox’. Furthermore, there are international tourist flyers about the low emission zone and information campaigns. Contact persons are named on the websites including phone numbers. The city also involved NGO and civil society in drafting the air quality action plan. The new clean air action plan adopted in 2012 was subject to intensive hearings with integration of NGO proposals. Intensive particpation process was also existent in the StEPV (development plan for transport).

City website on air quality information (Ger.):

Response to Questionnaire

The City replied to the questionnaire.