The continued increase in land use and the volume of traffic, which bring with them a threat to and destruction of the environment and nature and have a negative effect on human health, will continue to be a major challenge in the future. Likewise, Germany will also be obliged to respond to the continued high need for resources and the increasing scarcity of raw materials and energy sources, on which, as a highly developed industrialised nation, Germany relies through environmental policy instruments and measures.
A reduction to 30 ha per day (national target) in the day-to-day increase in the settlement and transport area by 2020 will call for a reversal of settlement and transport policy in many respects. Particularly important factors will be the abolition of damaging subsidies for the construction of new houses and building in the inner parts of towns and villages by taking advantage of the brownfield potential that is available in many places.
In order to assure the sustainable use of natural resources within the meaning of Agenda 21, it will be necessary to disconnect economic growth and the consumption of resources from one another in such a way that the utilisation of natural resources falls in absolute terms. The aim of German environmental policy is to align the German economy increasingly with an environmental and efficiency strategy, in which potential savings on raw material and energy costs are established and incentives for efficient technologies and products are created. A modernisation policy that is understood only from a technical standpoint and is intended to exploit potential efficiencies is not sufficient. Rather, it must be accompanied by societal change towards sustainable production and consumption patterns, lifestyle habits and mobility structures, so as to reduce to an absolute minimum the adverse effects on the environment associated with the extraction and processing of raw materials and the utilisation and disposal of goods.
In order to achieve the aims of traffic-related environmental protection, measures are necessary at various levels: in addition to improvements in efficiency, traffic must be avoided (e.g. by shorter distances), transferred onto more environmentally friendly modes of transport and optimised by the more efficient utilisation of means of transport.