At a glance
- Approximately 6 % of industrial production in Germany can be used to protect the environment, e.g. for noise protection or climate mitigation.
- In 2017, potential environmental protection goods worth nearly 86.8 billion euros were produced in Germany.
- The production of environmental protection goods has slightly increased since 2013.
Environmental protection has been established in Germany as an important economic factor. The environmental economy includes waste management and recycling, water conservation and wastewater treatment, air quality control, noise abatement, renewable energy sources, environmentally friendly products, efficient use of energy, climate protection and measurement and control 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 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 2017, companies produced goods worth nearly 86.8 billion euros, which can be used for environmental protection purposes. This is about 6 % of the overall German industrial production. Climate protection goods make up the major share of potential environmental protection goods, accounting for about 40 % of total production. These also include installations for the generation of renewable energy. Next in line are the areas water conservation and wastewater treatment, waste management, air quality control, measurement and control technology and noise abatement.
From 2011 to 2013, the production volume fell by 3.9 %. The decline was mainly due to the lower production of solar energy systems. After 2013, the production of climate protection goods recovered, which was mainly due to an increase in wind power goods. However, this trend was reversed in 2017. In contrast, the areas of air pollution control and measurement and regulation technology. In balance, the production of potential environmental goods has grown by at least 1.1 % per year since 2013. Further information (in German only) can be found in Umweltbundesamt 2019 and Gehrke et al. 2019.
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. For further information, see Gehrke et al. 2015.
More detailed information: 'Umweltwirtschaft und grüne Zukunftsmärkte' (in German only).