Better air for the Capital - what is being done?


Recent news:

The central task of the air quality plan is to assess and to develop measures to reduce the air pollution in order to meet the air quality limit values as quickly as possible everywhere in Berlin.

The action planning has been focusing on reducing nitrogen dioxide pollution, because the limit value for the annual average could not be safely met in 2020 in 117 polluted street sections (around 15 kilometers). Hence, we clearly need to consider further measures.

As our source analysis has shown, around three quarters of the nitrogen dioxide pollution stems from motorized road traffic, i.e. from the combustion engines in cars and trucks. The reduction of pollutant emissions from road traffic has therefore been a priority of the air quality plan.

The planning of measures was carried out in an integrated way taking into account existing thematic plans. This was true especially for road transport, based on Berlin’s new Mobility Act and the emerging planning processes, resulting in an update of the urban development plan for mobility and traffic and the local public transport plan. The urban development plans for centers, for trade and industry and for climate, the Berlin energy and climate protection program and the noise action plan were taken into account as well.

The measures of the second update of the air quality plan can be divided into two groups:

1. City-wide measures

A large number of measures aimed to reduce pollutant emissions across the city.

First and foremost, this requires clean vehicles:

  • By retrofitting and modernizing the fleet of buses and municipal vehicles, Berlin is playing a model role in reducing emissions of its own municipal vehicle stock.
  • However, commercial transport will also be supported in its conversation to clean vehicles by prolonging the existing funding scheme for electric vehicles.
  • Furthermore, the retrofitting of commercial vehicles with after-treatment systems to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions is promoted, referring to available filter systems approved by the Federal Road Transport Authority.

However, clean vehicles alone are not enough, not least because fleet renewal takes time. Less motorized traffic is also improving the air quality.

  • The planned expansion of parking space management will not only reduce the traffic in search for a scarce parking space, it will also provide an additional incentive for people to switch from cars to local public transport, cycling or walking. Less car traffic means fewer emissions, so that a reduction in NO2 pollution can be achieved in the entire city centre.
  • At the same time, the promotion of public transport, cycling and walking is being pushed. In this particular way the air quality plan supports the goals of Berlin’s sustainable transport and climate protection policies.

The studies on the effect of the city-wide measures to promote clean and sustainable transport modes have shown that the air quality limit value can be met in around a third of the critical non-compliant roads.

In addition, the air quality plan includes measures in the areas of mobility management and logistics, passenger shipping, non-road mobile and stationary machines, heat supply as well as spatial and urban planning.

2. Local measures for particularly trafficked roads

The city-wide measures are insufficient for some roads with busy traffic load. Here, the annual limit value for NO2 can only be met with additional local measures. These are essentially:

Speed limits of 30 km/h

For 33 road sections with a total length of 20.6 kilometers, 30 km/h speed limits were enforced aiming to smooth traffic flows and to avoid acceleration resulting in higher pollutant emissions. Experience in Berlin, for example with yearlong speed limits on Schildhornstrasse and Beusselstrasse has shown that NO2 reductions of up to 5 µg/m3 can be achieved because cars need to accelerate much less as they drive slower.

The map shows the location of the main road sections with 30 km/h limit due to bad air quality:

A map display follows. Skip map

MAP loading ...
Map of Berlin

End of map.

List for the 30 km/h routes of the Air Quality Plan Berlin

  • Albrechtstrasse from Robert-Lueck-Strasse to Neue Filandastrasse
  • Badstrasse from Behmstrasse to Exerzierstrasse
  • Breite Strasse / Schoenholzer Strasse from Grabbeallee to Muehlenstrasse
  • Danziger Strasse from Schoenhauser Allee to Schliemannstrasse
  • Dominicusstrasse from Ebersstrasse to Hauptstrasse
  • Hauptstrasse 1) from Kleistpark to Innsbrucker Platz
  • Dorotheenstrasse from Wilhelmstrasse to Friedrich-Ebert-Platz
  • Elsenstrasse from Treptower Park to Karl-Kunger-Straße
  • Erkstrasse from Karl-Marx-Strasse to Sonnenallee
  • Hermannstrasse from Mariendorfer Weg to Silbersteinstrasse (next to passage ban from Silbersteinstrasse to Emser Strasse, including 30 km/h speed limit)
  • Invalidenstrasse from Alexanderufer to Scharnhorststrasse
  • Joachimstaler Strasse from Hardenbergplatz to Kurfuerstendamm
  • Kaiser-Friedrich-Strasse from Kantstrasse to Otto-Suhr-Allee
  • Kantstrasse 1) from Amtsgerichtsplatz to Savignyplatz
  • Klosterstrasse from Brunsbuettler Damm to Pichelsdorfer Strasse
  • Leipziger Strasse 1) from Markgrafenstrasse to Potsdamer Platz
  • Leonorenstrasse from Bernkastlerstrasse to Kaiser-Wilhelm Strasse
  • Luxemburger Strasse from Genter Strasse to Muellerstrasse
  • Mariendorfer Damm from Westphalweg to Eisenacher Strasse
  • Martin-Luther-Strasse from Lietzenburger Strasse to Motzstrasse
  • Mehringdamm from Yorckstrasse to Bergmannstrasse
  • Müllerstrasse from Seestrasse to Antonstrasse
  • Oranienburger Strasse from Roedernallee to Wilhelmsruher Damm
  • Oranienstrasse from Moritzplatz to Oranienplatz
  • Potsdamer Strasse 1) from Potsdamer Platz to Kleistpark
  • Residenzstrasse from Amende Strasse to Lindauer Allee
  • Saarstrasse from Rheinstrasse to the motorway bridge
  • Scharnweberstrasse from Kapweg to Afrikanische Strasse
  • Schönholzer Strasse from Wollankstrasse to Parkstrasse
  • Sonnenallee from Thiemannstrasse to Reuterstrasse
  • Spandauer Damm from Klausener Platz to Koenigin-Elisabeth-Strasse
  • Tempelhofer Damm 1) from Ordensmeisterstrasse and Alt-Tempelhof
  • Torstrasse from Prenzlauer Allee to Chausseestrasse
  • Wildenbruchstrasse from Sonnenallee to Weserstrasse
  • Wilhelmstrasse from Karl-Marx-Strasse to Sonnenallee

1) Pilot routes of the 30 km/h trial

Lifting of the local interventions in hot spots street sections, in particular transit bans for diesel vehicles up to and including Euro 5/V

Please note: All drive-through bans for diesel vehicles up to and including Euro5/V are lifted since summer 2022.

Air quality limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) can be met now without these driving bans.

Diesel bans on eight streets had to be imposed because the other measures were not sufficient to ensure that air quality limits were met by 2020. A detailed description of the reasons for the diesel ban is given in the Clean Air Plan for Berlin – second update. The Administrative Court of Berlin obligated to issue a ban on streets where necessary (case number VG 10 K 207.16). The driving bans came into force as drive-through bans with the additional regulation “residents free” in January 2020.

Traffic ban lifted in summer 2021:

  • Brueckenstrasse from Koepenicker Strasse to Holzmarktstrasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 28 µg/m³
  • Reinhardtstrasse from Charitéstrasse to Kapelle-Ufer
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 21 µg/m³
  • Friedrichstrasse from Unter den Linden to Dorotheenstrasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 24 µg/m³
  • Stromstrasse from Bugenhagenstrasse to Turmstrasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 20 µg/m³

Traffic ban lifted in summer 2022:

  • Leipziger Strasse from Leipziger Platz (East) to Charlottenstrasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 28-31 µg/m³
  • Alt-Moabit from Gotzkowskystrasse to Beusselstrasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 31 µg/m³
  • Hermannstrasse from Silbersteinstrasse to Emser Strasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 34 µg/m³
  • Silbersteinstrasse from Hermannstrasse to Karl-Marx-Strasse
    NO2 yearly mean value 2021: 35 µg/m³

In summer 2021, the diesel driving bans could be lifted for the first four streets, followed by the remaining four driving bans in August 2022.
In order to ensure compliance with the NO2 air quality limit on all former traffic ban sections a speed limit of 30 km/h still applies.

The Diesel drive-through bans are now no longer necessary. Since 2020, all air quality limit values are met at all monitoring stations in Berlin. Thanks to the modernization of the vehicle fleet the emission of air pollutants per vehicle has fallen significantly. Passenger cars and light duty vehicles now emit around 20 percent less nitrogen oxides than in 2019.

At Leipziger Strasse, which was very highly polluted until a few years ago, the use of electric busses also contributed to a significant improvement in air quality.

  • The Air Quality Plan for Berlin, 2nd update

    PDF-Document (11.6 MB)

Berlin Environmental Atlas:

Scenario calculations and data underpinning the Air Quality Plan
Effects of selected scenarios on the NO2 air pollution along roads from motor vehicle traffic for the year 2020

Traffic-related air pollution along roads with projections for 2020 and 2025

Traffic-related air pollution along roads in the base year 2015