Working to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality at the German Environment Agency

New environmental statement: UBA wants to lead the way as a low-carbon agency

EMAS logo on the face of the UBA office building in Dessau-RoßlauClick to enlarge
UBA was the first federal authority to receive the EMAS certificate for its environmental management
Source: Umweltbundesamt

By 2030 the German Environment Agency (UBA) aims to cut its CO2 emissions by 70 per cent, double its production of renewable energy and reduce the emissions from its car fleet to zero. “We seek to be pioneers on the path to becoming a greenhouse neutral agency and identify the actual ways to do so,” says UBA’s President Maria Krautzberger of the initiative. Whether it is the construction of plus-energy buildings, cutting the numbers in the vehicle fleet, more electric mobility, less meat served at the office canteen, or procurement of supplies that bear the Blue Angel ecolabel, UBA aims to show how public authorities can take action for the sake of the climate. “Climate action must be about more than merely replacing technical infrastructure: climate-friendly action must become an established part of the work we do, for example when on business trips or in procurement,” said Ms Krautzberger.

Eleven of Germany’s federal states and the Federal Government have committed to achieving greenhouse gas-neutral administration, and some have formulated concrete goals for this purpose. UBA’s updated environmental statement formulates clear requirements and recommendations for climate change mitigation at public agencies. The statements refer to video conferences, the integration of mobile working, electronic workflow management, flexible workspace management and more.

Obstacles to taking more climate action sometimes have to do with operational issues, organization, technical conditions or even legal framework. For example, responsibility for building management may in part be outsourced, which prolongs the decision-making process when it comes to adopting climate action measures in buildings. Current tax law governing travel expenditure makes no solid case to give automatic preference to train travel versus a less environmentally friendly mode of transport. Furthermore, an adjustment in budgetary law would be meaningful that allows public authorities to offset CO2 emissions from the operation of their buildings or events with climate action projects.

In order to achieve the ambitious goals of greenhouse neutrality, the German Environment Agency has an environmental management system in place certified according to EMAS, the EU Eco-Management and Audit System. EMAS sets the most demanding requirements for environmental management worldwide as well as for the annual environmental statement. An accredited independent environmental verifier must validate every year whether these requirements are being met.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany