No.: 6/2021Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear readers,

They are bad for the climate, often also for air quality and our health and cost Germany many billions of euros every year. We’re talking about environmentally harmful subsidies. This issue of the newsletter "UBA aktuell" deals with how Germany can reduce these and, in doing so, also gain financial leeway for socio-ecological change. Other topics: How can health and the environment be better protected when chemicals are a part of the economy? How should the so-called CCU technology for carbon capture and utilization be assessed from a climate protection perspective? How can tourism adapt to climate change? And how can living, working, recreation and mobility in the city and its surroundings be more sustainably interlinked?

Wishing you an interesting read,

The Press Office of the German Environment Agency

Transforming environmentally harmful subsidies into socio-ecological investments

Euro bank notes
Reduction of environmentally harmful subsidies creates the financial means for a sustainable policy.
Source: PhotoSG /

It is paradoxical; the German state is promoting the switch to more climate-friendly electric cars through purchase premiums – and at the same time diesel fuels and the private use of petrol and diesel company cars through tax privileges. Economic incentives of this kind in opposing directions counteract effective climate and environmental protection and cost us all unnecessarily. Germany spent more than 65 billion euros in 2018 on subsidies that have a negative impact on the climate and often also on air quality, health and raw material consumption, according to the latest UBA figures. Almost half (47 per cent) went to the transport sector, and another 39 percent to energy supply and use, such as energy tax breaks for business. 

By changing national regulations alone, Germany could generate additional revenues in the double digit billion range by reducing environmentally harmful subsidies. These revenues could then be used for socio-ecological investments, for example, supporting companies in switching to greenhouse gas-neutral production methods or ensuring upgraded and affordable bus and rail transport. The dismantling of environmentally harmful subsidies is also necessary in some cases on grounds of social justice. One example is the private use of company cars, which the state subsidises with at least three billion euros per year. "This mainly benefits households with high incomes. This subsidy is not only harmful to the environment, but also socially unjust. It should be abolished," says UBA President Dirk Messner.

The UBA has presented concrete reform proposals that both advance environmental and climate protection and take social goals into consideration. Fundamentally, only subsidies that are in line with sustainable development should be granted.

Consumer tips

Making climate-friendly consumer choices with Big Points

Big Points make it easier for consumers to make climate-friendly consumption choices in order to effectively reduce their CO₂ footprint. The Competence Centre for Sustainable Consumption provides share pics and information material for free download and use to promote awareness of the concept of Big Points in climate protection communication. read more (in German)

Supporting research with the personal CO₂ balance sheet

More than three million people have already used the CO₂ calculator from the German Environment Agency (UBA) since its launch in 2008 to calculate their personal CO₂ footprint. A new research project is now investigating the differences, for example, by city and region or by housing situation - and is relying on the help of citizens to do so. read more (in German)

UBA positions

Bauer brings out pesticides in his field

Chemicals: better protection of environment and health

The German Environment Agency (UBA) is calling for the sustainable use of chemicals. At its Sustainability Transformation Conference held on 30.11.2021, UBA identified six key aspects of chemicals management that protects human health and the environment. These include giving preference to the use of non-harmful substances and achieving climate neutrality of chemicals throughout their life cycle. read more

Science & Research

ZeroPM Dreieck

New research project „ZeroPM“ with UBA participation

In autumn 2021, the new European research project "ZeroPM: Zero Pollution of Persistent, Mobile substances" will start. The German Environment Agency (UBA) is involved as a project partner. ZeroPM will develop political, technological and market-based tools that aim to reduce the use and emissions of persistent and mobile substances as well as contamination from such substances. read more

Climate protection in transport

Mobility is an indispensable part of daily life. The transport sector, however, is also one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in Germany. If the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 target of the Federal Climate Protection Act are to be met, the transport sector must quickly and drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The UBA has presented proposals in this regard. read more (in German)

New substance lists for the investigation of biocides in the environment

In 2017, the UBA issued recommendations on the survey of environmental pollution with biocides. In the process, lists of biocides that are likely relevant and therefore need to be investigated were compiled for various input pathways into the environment and environmental compartments, such as surface waters or agricultural soils. These lists of substances have now been updated and extended with the addition of two new lists. read more (in German)

Economy & Environment

Eine Fabrikanlage mit rauchenden Schloten

Carbon capture and utilization necessary for raw material supply

The greenhouse gas-neutral economic system of the future will continue to rely on hydrocarbons, for example in the chemical industry for the production of plastics or in aviation and maritime transport for the production of synthetic fuels. The carbon will be sourced from a new carbon circular economy but mainly from the atmosphere. The energy needs to come from fully renewable sources. read more

verschiedene Baumaterialien, wie Steine und Fenster, getrennt voneinander gelagert

Promoting plastics recycling in the construction sector

The construction sector is the second-largest consumer of plastics with a volume of some 2.6 million tonnes used in 2017. However, proper guidelines for the recycling of plastic building products are still lacking, and recycling volumes are not recorded adequately. read more

überfluteter Campingplatz

Drought, heavy rains and heat waves impact tourism

Climate change in Germany is causing more heat, increased drought combined with water shortages and forest fires, less certainty of snow and an increase in heavy rainfall and flooding at the same time. A new study commissioned by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) shows how these changes will affect tourism and what adaptation strategies are possible. read more

Protecting facilities at risk of cyber attack disruption

Cyber security is an elementary part of preventive measures for facilities handling hazardous substances in order to guard against tampering by unauthorised persons. In a joint study, the Federal Office for Information Security and the German Environment Agency have investigated the extent to which cyber security is already taken into account in regulations and have formulated recommendations for action. read more (in German)

Green technologies for developing countries

Environmental innovations from Germany can make an important contribution to achieving sustainability goals in emerging and developing countries. In addition, the development of these markets offers export opportunities. It is particularly important for the innovation process, however, to take the requirements and conditions of the target market into consideration right from the start. read more (in German)

Promoting the dissemination of environmental innovations in a more targeted manner

If environmental innovations are to realise their full potential, they need to be established on the market. Many innovations, however, remain in a market niche. A study commissioned by the UBA therefore suggests, for example, that follow-up innovations and the testing of innovations in real laboratories or transformation regions should be promoted more actively. read more (in German)

Non-woven production for air filters possible with 70% less energy

Whether for air filters to protect against coronaviruses or for recirculating air conditioning systems in electric cars - non-wovens are increasingly in demand. Funding from the Environmental Innovation Program was used to implement an innovative manufacturing concept on an industrial scale for the first time, enabling energy savings of 70 percent as well as material savings. read more (in German)

Environmentally friendly printing with the Blue Angel - new criteria

The Blue Angel for printed products (DE-UZ 195) identifies products that are manufactured in a manner that protects the environment and conserves resources. The criteria have been updated: the removability of printing inks, coatings and adhesives has been further developed, the avoidance of persistent perfluorinated and polyfluorinated substances has been specified, and the limit values for volatile organic compounds have been tightened. read more (in German)

Environment at the community level

Eine Neubausiedlung von oben.

Creating sustainable links between cities and urban hinterland

Despite their separate administrative remits, cities and the urban hinterland are nevertheless closely linked and mutually dependent upon one another. A new strategy paper titled UMLANDSTADT umweltschonend shows how to link work and private life, recreation and mobility in cities and the surrounding areas, in order to increase the quality of life and to better protect the environment. read more

Environment internationally

Four-storey office building with a façade made of wood and colourful glass elements; a photovoltaic system stands on the green roof

Guide for greenhouse gas-neutral administrations published

“Public administrations must pioneer and be a role model in climate protection”, said Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency (UBA) at an online meeting of the Network of Heads of European Environmental Administrations (EPA Network) on November 25th. He presented UBA’s guide on greenhouse gas neutral administrations, now also available in English. read more

New 10-year plan for the protection of the Baltic Sea adopted

Baltic Sea countries and the European Union adopted an action plan for the protection of the Baltic Sea on 20.10.2021 at the Helsinki Commission Ministerial Conference chaired by Germany. 30 percent of the Baltic Sea is to be placed under protection and impacts from waste, nutrients and pollutants, munitions waste and noise are to be reduced. read more (in German)

EU Commission proposes comprehensive reform of emissions trading

Achieving the EU's 2030 climate protection target necessitates a reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Measures include reducing the quantity of certificates issued and expanding financial support for climate protection initiatives. Moreover, maritime transport is to be included in the EU ETS in the future and a new emissions trading system for buildings and road transport is to be created. read more (in German)

​Law & Legislation

used electrical and electronic equipment in a container, for example monitors, computers and household appliances

Electrical waste: falling far short of collection target of 65 percent

A new evaluation by the German Environment Agency (UBA) reports that municipalities, retailers and producers in Germany collected 947,067 tonnes of electrical waste in 2019. The amount corresponds to a collection rate of 44.3 percent, which means the minimum collection target of 65 percent which was set for all EU member states in 2019 was missed and fell short of some 443,000 tonnes. read more

Heating Energy Consumer Information Guide

From 01.01.2022, building owners must inform all tenants who have already installed remote-reading meters about their energy consumption for heating and hot water on a monthly basis. A guide from the UBA shows how such information can be arranged so that it is legally compliant, easy to understand and motivates people to save energy. read more (in German)

Standards and regulations - deficits in adaptation to climate change

In many areas of the economy and society, standards and regulations stipulate how individual matters should and must function. This is to ensure security as well as compatibility. Climate change adaptation should be urgently incorporated into such specifications. A study commissioned by the German Environment Agency has shown that there is still a need to catch up in this area. read more (in German)

Proposed restriction on bisphenol A: renewed consultation

All stakeholders, such as concerned industry associations and companies, are invited to complete the questionnaire on the proposed restriction on bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenols with a similar concern (BosC) by 22nd December 2022. The restriction would apply to the manufacture, market distribution and use of BPA and BosC in the EU. read more (in German)

UBA News

Dr Lilian Busse appointed as the new Vice-President of the German Environment Agency

Dr Lilian Busse was appointed as the new Vice President of the German Environment Agency (UBA) on 27th September 2021. State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth (Federal Environment Ministry) and UBA President Dirk Messner congratulated her on her inauguration during a virtual staff meeting at the UBA. read more (in German)

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As recounted


How we eat has an impact on the climate. For every kilogram of cow's milk, greenhouse gases with a climate impact of about 1.4 kilograms of CO₂ are emitted. For the same amount of oat drink, only 0.3, i.e. only about a fifth. More figures can be found in the publication "Ökologische Fußabdrücke von Lebensmitteln und Gerichten in Deutschland” (Ecological footprints of food and dishes in Germany), which was produced as part of a study co-funded by the UBA.


Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency)
Präsidialbereich / Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, Internet; Pressesprecher
Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
Phone: +49(0) 340 2103-2416
Fax: +49(0) 340 2103-2285

Corinne Meunier

Six times a year our Newsletter „UBA aktuell“ provides information about the latest activities and work of the German Environment Agency (UBA).

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