Indicator: Environmental protection goods

A graph shows the value of environmental protection goods produced between 2009 and 2021 as well as the share of these goods in the overall industrial production.Click to enlarge
Production of potential environmental protection goods
Source: Umweltbundesamt Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • Approximately 6 % of industrial production in Germany are used to protect the environment, e.g. for noise protection or climate mitigation.
  • In 2021, potential environmental protection goods worth nearly 90.6 billion euros were produced in Germany.
  • At 43 billion, climate protection accounts for the largest share.

Environmental importance

Environmental protection has been established in Germany as an important economic factor. The environmental economy includes waste management and wastewater treatment, air quality control, noise abatement, goods to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources as well as instrumentation and control (I&C) technology.

Global demand is growing for environmental protection and climate change mitigation technologies as well as products that are environmentally friendly and help to save resources. This will continue to enhance the economic importance of environmental protection in the future. German companies have long been established in producing environmental protection goods on the global market, but competitive pressure is growing. The production of potential environmental protection goods is one of the indicators for assessing competitiveness of the German environmental protection sector and the general importance of environmental protection for the economy.


Assessing the development

In 2021, companies produced goods worth nearly 90.6 billion euros, which can be used for environmental protection purposes. This is about 6.2 % of the overall German industrial production. Climate protection goods make up the major share of potential environmental protection goods, accounting for about 47.5 % of total production. These include installations for the generation of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Next in line are the areas wastewater, noise, and air quality.

From 2019 to 2020, the production volume fell by 2.2 %. In contrast, total industrial production declined by 9.6% in the crisis year 2020. This means that potential environmental protection goods developed much more favourably than industrial production as a whole. The recovery in 2021 turned out to be a bit more favourable for environmental protection goods (+10.0 %) than for German industrial production as a whole (+9.7 %). Further information can be found in Gulden et al. 2024.



The concept of potential environmental protection goods was developed in the 1990s and has been further refined through conventions drawn up by various research institutions in cooperation with Germany’s Federal Statistical Office. The concept is based on a list of goods that (can) help to protect the environment. Because it uses standard international goods classifications, this concept lends itself to international competitiveness comparisons. The last update of the approach became necessary due to the new version of the production statistics of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany in 2019. For further information, see Gehrke et al. 2023.

More detailed information: 'Umweltwirtschaft und grüne Zukunftsmärkte' (in German only).