At a glance
- Greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturing industry fell by nearly 23 % between 1995 and 2016.
- Over the same period, productivity grew by about 49 %.
- Overall greenhouse gas emissions in Germany should fall by 95 % compared to 1990 by 2050.
Since the beginning of industrialisation in particular, humans have caused the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a consequence, temperatures rose. This has a number of repercussions, such as an increase in the number of extreme weather events (e.g. storms, droughts and floods), destabilisation of infrastructure, the spread of tropical diseases etc.
The most important source of greenhouse gas emissions has been and still is the combustion of fossil energy sources. Energy is largely used in the production of goods. This explains the important role the manufacturing sector plays in resolving the climate issue.
The industry is also an indirect cause of greenhouse gas emissions, as it purchases electricity and heat from external power plant operators. This share of emissions should also be attributed to the industry, but the effect is not taken into account in the indicator, because no suitable data are currently available.
Assessing the development
Since 1995, greenhouse gas emissions by the manufacturing industry have fallen by nearly 23 %. According to Environmental Economic Accounting (UGR) figures, Germany’s total emissions in all sectors (including energy production, traffic and households) fell by just around 19 % (cf. ‘Greenhouse gas emissions’ indicator) in the same period. The trend is thus better in this sector than in the overall economy. The more so: at the same time, the gross value-added grew by 49 %. The main reasons for these developments are more efficiency production processes and an increasing number of high-quality and resource efficient products. In addition, there has been a switch to more current-based production processes.
What has to be taken into account is that when installations are not used to full capacity, their efficiency will decrease. This explains the development of the indicator in the crisis year 2009, when gross value added fell by 20 %, whereas emissions of greenhouse gases decreased by approximately 11 % only.
In its Energy Concept, the Federal Government set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (BMWi, BMU 2010). By 2050, emissions should be 80 % to 95 % below 1990 levels. In order to achieve these targets, the manufacturing industry – one of the major emitters – must also continue to reduce its emissions.
The indicator uses figures of the Environmental-Economic Accounting (EEA, in German only) provided by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. The greenhouse gas tables of EEA are essentially based on data of the Emissions Inventory of the German Environment Agency, but must be adapted to the EEA system. The method is explained in detail by Thomas 2012 (in German only).