German citizens sue government for right to breathe clean air

(EurActiv, 26 Sep 2022) A group of German citizens are suing their government over a lack of progress in meeting World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on air quality levels presented in 2021.

Last year, the WHO published new air quality guidelines, significantly lowering the recommended thresholds. While their guidelines are not legally binding, the seven claimants demand action from the German government.

“Air pollution may not often be named the official cause of death, but it claims lives – and causes long-term diseases, including cancer, heart problems, shortness of breath and strokes. I myself suffer from asthma,” said one claimant from Munich in a statement released as the lawsuit was announced Monday (September 26).

The seven claimants represent Germany’s four most polluted cities — Munich, Düsseldorf, Berlin, and Frankfurt am Main — measured by the pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

They are supported by the environmental law firm ClientEarth and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), a German environmental and consumer protection association.

“Politicians are doing too little to protect people – particularly those most exposed. There are many ways to reduce pollution, but what’s missing is the political will to implement them,” the Munich claimant said.

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EurActiv, 26 Sep 2022: German citizens sue government for right to breathe clean air