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VCÖ calls for urgent action to reduce nitrogen Oxide Emissions

Austria’s air is polluted by excessive amounts of nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxide is a major threat to public health. The biggest amount of nitrogen oxide emissions is caused by transport, especially by diesel vehicles.

In Austria, every tenth child already suffers from asthma – numbers increasing. Nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) cause respiratory diseases particularly affecting children and elderly people. Nitrogen oxide affects lung functions and reinforces allergies. The World Health Organisation is warning that high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions increase fatality rates. Nitrogen dioxides are known to be especially harmful in high concentrations, causing cardiovascular diseases. Transport is a major contributor as it is responsible for half of Austria’s nitrogen oxide emissions. The amount of NOx-Emissions caused by passenger cars and lorries is roughly the same.
Due to excessive levels of nitrogen oxide emissions, Austria faces an infringement process by the European Union. Austria is by treaty obliged towards the EU to reduce the amount of NOx-emissions to a maximum of 103 000 tons until 2010. However, in 2010 147 000 tons of nitrogen oxides – excluding the emissions from fuel export – were emitted and in 2011 the amount was approximately 144 000 tons.

VCÖ recommends abolishing tax benefits for diesel vehicles, expanding the truck toll system and significantly extending the public transport network. Many short-distance car rides can be replaced by clean and active mobility by improving conditions for cycling and walking.  Lower speed limits cut NOx-Emissions quickly and cheaply. In other countries Low Emission Zones and Congestion Charge systems have proved successful to reduce health-threatening emissions of transport, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

VCÖ Factsheet: Exposure to nitrogen oxides is too high in Austria (German)