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

Official travel by Federal Government and federal agencies is climate neutral

Number of agencies offsetting their official travel grows

business travellers in an airportClick to enlarge
The German Government offsets its business travel to make it climate neutral
Source: Rawpixel.com / Fotolia.de

The German Federal Government compensates for the climate gas emissions of its official trips. To do so the German Environment Agency (UBA) acquired and cancelled emissions credits worth roughly 300,000 tonnes of CO2 for official travel in 2017. The credits are obtained exclusively from projects which are certified according to the UN rules under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). These projects include the construction of biogas installations in Nepal which generate energy from crop residues and waste and the construction of modern, fuel-efficient cooking stoves in rural regions in Zambia.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said: "Choosing not to fly whenever possible is the right choice for the climate. Many flights can be substituted by holding video conferences. Where travel is unavoidable, it makes good sense to offset the CO2 emissions which are generated."

The German Federal Government has offset all its staff official travel in 2017. This includes the passenger car trips and flights performed by 121 ministries and federal agencies. The costs of offsetting amount to 1.7 million euros. The volume of offsetting has increased significantly compared to recent years because all the federal agencies which participate in the federal government's "Sustainability" programme of measures are now offsetting their travel emissions.

When it offsets its emissions the Federal Government ensures that the reduction credits meet high-standard quality criteria, the decisive factor being that the projects they support have high value-added for sustainable development. They must also meet other criteria in addition to the UN criteria of environmentally friendly development (CDM). The selected projects aim to secure clean drinking water, the construction of biogas installations which produce energy from waste, or to develop and expand energy supply with renewables.

The projects which the Federal Government used to offset its official travel in 2017:

  • Fuel Efficient Stoves in Zambia: Project activities promote the sale and installation of fuel-efficient stoves in private households in the rural regions of Zambia, where wood from local forests is the main source of energy.
  • Biogas for households in Nepal: Small, local biogas installations are built which can generate energy from harvest residues and dung, thus supplying rural households with energy. The installations are a sensible alternative to wood furnaces.
    Both projects prevent further deforestation and enables healthier, smoke- and soot-free cooking.

The German Environment Agency is responsible for the entire process of offsetting official travel emissions, from calculation and acquisition of credits through to their cancellation. Emissions volume is calculated based on travel data from 2017. UBA calculated the mileage of all airplane travel and the fuel consumption of the vehicle fleet to calculate greenhouse gas emissions. The CO2 emissions of air travel are multiplied by a factor of three to take account of the greater climate impact of aviation. "Green tickets", which have no CO2 emissions, are purchased for train travel.

Maria Krautzberger, President of the German Environment Agency (UBA) said: "Climate-friendly official travel is a central element in the federal government. We purposely select small-scale climate protection projects which make a high contribution to sustainable development and focus on least developed countries. Private individuals and companies are taking a greater interest in voluntary offsetting of emissions. Nevertheless, it remains priority to avoid and reduce emissions."

The UBA website features advice on voluntary offsetting through climate protection projects.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany