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“Clean Air in Cities” conference

International exchange of knowledge and experience for improvement of the air quality in cities

Within the scope of its Clean Buses project, a subproject of its Clean Air project, the Verkehrsclub Deutschland e.V. (VCD) arranged the “Clean Air in Cities” conference, which was held on September 4, 2014 in Berlin. Representatives of municipalities, ministries, research institutions and environmental associations from Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany came together to inform themselves about the various measures for keeping the air clean in cities, especially about the low emission zones and the retrofit of buses. Berlin is a good example of a city with clean air as many of the measures have already been realised successfully in this city. Thus, as early as 1998 Berlin e.g. began to retrofit the buses of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) with particulate filters. Moreover, Berlin introduced an low emission zone already in 2008, as one of the first cities in Germany. It was the objective of the conference to initiate the transfer of knowledge across the borders in order to establish and develop approaches to reducing the emission of pollutants from traffic and transport at a European level. However, besides the sharing of knowledge and experience general appropriate political conditions have to be set up. Mr Gregor Kolbe, project manager of the VCD: “It is important to develop the general conditions at the national level, too, so that the municipalities can purposively realise measures for improvement of the air quality themselves.”

By way of introduction, Mr Heiko Balsmeyer, project coordinator of the Clean Air project of the European Union, provided an overview of the possible measures of the municipalities for keeping the air clean. “Generally, the measures, particularly the stimulation of cycling, contribute to increasing the quality of life in our cities”, Balsmeyer said to encourage the participants to take action. Mr Dr. Marcel Langner from the German Federal Environment Agency informed the participants in detail about the low emission zones. As Poland and the Czech Republic at present intensively discuss the introduction of low emission zones, the participants were very interested in the German experience. Mr Dr. Andreas Kerschbaumer from the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment lectured on the various municipal measures realised in Berlin to reduce the pollutant emission caused by traffic. Mr Truong, head of the bus engineering department of the BVG, also stressed the close cooperation between the municipal departments in Berlin and the BVG in his lecture. Thus, in the last few years buses have been retrofitted successfully with particulate filters and SCR systems for reduction of the nitrogen oxide, and further buses will follow in the years to come. Mr Thomas Kortmann from HJS, a company that has specialised in the field of retrofitting, provided the guests with a detailed overview of the available technologies that can make public transport buses cleaner.

After the lectures the participants of the conference visited a bus depot of the BVG, where further details concerning the retrofitting technologies as well as the maintenance and service of retrofitted buses were demonstrated. Here, too, it was clearly seen that the retrofit of buses with particulate filters and systems for reduction of emission of the nitrogen oxide is successful and can reduce the pollutant emission significantly.