New manual for public authorities on combating climate change

Nine steps to greenhouse gas neutral administration

Photovoltaikanlage auf DachflächenClick to enlarge
Public authorities often have a lot of potential to generate electricity from renewable energy
Source: Jorg Greuel / Photodisc / GettyImages

The state and its administration have an important role to play in protecting the climate. That is why many public authorities have set themselves the goal of becoming greenhouse gas-neutral. A new manual from the German Environment Agency (UBA) now supports them in this endeavour. The guide describes the path to a greenhouse gas-neutral administration with the help of nine stages, gives recommendations and makes implementation on site easier with many practical examples. "The state and its administration have a role model function in pointing the way to a greenhouse gas-neutral future. In this way, state institutions not only gain credibility, but also make a direct contribution to climate change mitigation," says UBA's President Dirk Messner.

The EU and Germany want to be climate neutral by 2050, i.e. emit no more greenhouse gases than they remove from the atmosphere, for instance through reforestation. This is an ambitious goal that committed role models can promote. The Federal Climate Change Act therefore contains a separate section on the exemplary role of the public sector and the goal of making the federal administration climate-neutral as early as 2030. The climate protection laws of most federal states ("Länder") as well as numerous climate initiatives of cities and municipalities contain comparable obligations for their administration. Overall, the goal of greenhouse gas-neutral administration in Germany affects several thousand public authorities with a workforce of more than four million employees.

The UBA manual on greenhouse gas-neutral primarily addresses public institutions. It familiarises them with the organisational, methodological and practical aspects of climate change mitigation and supports them on their way to greenhouse gas neutrality with a wide range of information and advice. In addition, the guide also provides companies and other organisations outside the public sector with orientation that they can apply to make their climate efforts transparent and credible.

UBA not only evaluated the relevant literature and current scientific findings for the manual, but also examined the experiences of numerous administrations and integrated them into the manual as good practice examples, concrete recommendations and checklists. The path to a greenhouse gas-neutral administration consists of a total of nine stages, which are described in detail. Administrations can learn how to determine responsibility, responsibilities and fields of action for climate action, define the system and balance limits for determining their greenhouse gas emissions, decide on meaningful targets and measures, formulate requirements for offsetting unavoidable emissions, design internal and external communication and review the effectiveness of their climate action. In addition, the guide contains a comprehensive overview of further information and assistance, especially for the fields of action buildings, transport, procurement, ICT and events.