Despite the remarkable progress the Germans have made in reducing air pollution since the 1960s, there are still challenges to be faced. The nation’s environmental problems have clearly increased following unification with the east. The costs of unification to the economy overall have reduced their ability to address environmental issues. In addition, some areas of the east have suffered tremendous environmental degradation over the years. A number of eastern air problems, such as sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions, have already been brought under control as a result of the initial decline in economic, particularly industrial activity, but there are still significant environmental difficulties in the region.
A continuing air pollution problem nationwide for the Germans is increasing motor vehicle usage and its resulting air pollution. Despite stringent emissions controls, an increase in the number of vehicles, as well as their increased use, makes it seem unlikely that the nation will meet its air quality standards for ozone. The eastern region of the country in particular is expected to have increasing emissions problems as motor vehicle use rises in response to increasing levels of economic activity and the opening of an extensive new highway system.
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