Joint press release by the German Environment Agency and Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety

Federal Government initiates carbon offsetting scheme for all official travel

UBA cancels credits for greenhouse gas emissions

a plane takes offClick to enlarge
Air travel is sometimes unavoidable for long-distance official travel.
Source: Jürgen Effner /

The Federal Government is gradually offsetting the climate impact of all its business trips. For 2014, the first year of the current Federal Government, the German Environment Agency (UBA) is now cancelling emission credits worth 138,038 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said: "We aim to inspire the general public and industry to offset the effects of their business trips, too. The guiding principle of our official trips is "avoid, reduce, compensate". Offsetting is carried out through climate protection projects with high sustainability standards. "We have decided on the purchase of credits from five projects which are certified according to UN regulations under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for sustainable development. We have put our focus on projects which consolidate micro-projects that promote sustainable development in the respective developing or newly industrialised country in a particular way“, said UBA's President Maria Krautzberger.

The Federal Government agreed in 2015 to neutralise the climate change impact of all the official trips by its employees as of the start of the current legislative term (2014-2017). UBA cancelled therefore 138,038 credits (one credit is one tonne of CO2 equivalent) from the CDM, an amount which corresponds to the emissions of all of the official air and car travel in 2014 by the Federal Government's 16 ministries and 58 federal authorities. Rail travel and the use of "green tickets" have already been declared climate-neutral and are therefore not taken into account.

The climate protection projects in southern countries focus on the development and expansion of renewable energy plants and aim to strengthen energy efficiency in line with the climate policy objectives of the Federal Government. Furthermore, the German Environment Agency considers additional criteria to ensure a high degree of sustainable development, which is why mainly micro-projects were selected. In addition to achieving emission reductions, these projects strengthen local job markets and are an immediate measure to combat local unemployment. Most of the projects meet the strict criteria of what is called the international "gold" standard, developed by a broad-based alliance of environmental organisations and according to which CDM projects can gain additional certification. The gold standard places particularly high demands on the projects' aspects of ecological, economic and social sustainability.

The Federal Government's climate-neutral official trips send an important political signal that it is taking on additional, voluntary activities for the sake of climate protection. The Federal Government is also encouraging other institutions and businesses to offset their travel-related emissions by cancelling their emission credits, too. Data for the second tranche will soon be collected, after which the procedure for the purchase of credits to offset emissions for the year 2015 can commence (in the second half of 2016).

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