A recent study on behalf of the German Environment Agency (UBA) shows that even though German companies increasingly report on climate, water, resources and waste, significant gaps remain. Only about 20 percent disclose information on air pollution and biodiversity. Apparently, the identified gaps in corporate reporting are often due to insufficient legal provisions. read more
The concept of a green economy is a new paradigm for economic development. It allows for a positive and robust interconnection between ecological and economic factors, and is thus a genuine boon to the well being of society as a whole. Transforming our current economy into a green economy will necessitate across the board ecological modernization of our current business practices, particularly in terms of resource use, emission reduction, product design and value chain transformation. Measures that promote environmental innovation will play a key role here. The UBA is currently elaborating guiding principles and is developing recommendations aimed at promoting this transformation process.
To do this, it is necessary to analyze the myriad interrelationships between the environmental and economic aspects of modern life, and to leverage the latent synergies between environmental protection and economic development. For example, it is essential to analyze environmental economics and emerging eco-markets. German companies are world leaders in these rapidly growing markets, and if they successfully maintain this position the German economy stands to benefit greatly. Environmental protection also creates jobs in fields such as climate and resource protection. Environmental protection cost benefit analyses are another key field of endeavor. This involves, for example, prognosticating the potential benefits of environmental policy measures by virtue of the fact that they help to counter environmental pollution and health hazards. The UBA has developed a methodology for projecting environmental costs and has issued recommendations for best-practice estimates in areas such as greenhouse emissions and air pollution.
Industrial manufacturing is one of the key worldwide sources of emissions that pose a hazard for the environment and human health. Hence the UBA is promoting efforts to optimize current environmental standards. Current international environmental protection agreements aim to promote the harmonization of such standards based on the best available techniques (BATs), with the aim of substantially raising the bar in this domain. Such efforts help to avoid situations where environmental pollution is simply “relocated” to states with relatively lax environmental standards. BATs are enshrined in German law as the gold standard. It is essential that both resource use and emissions be permanently reduced to environmentally sustainable levels in the industrial sector . Key to such efforts is the development of innovative eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Energy and environmental management systems are also one of the main drivers of business process optimization. There is also considerable room for improvement in the areas of industrial-accident prevention and plant safety.
But eco-friendly manufacturing processes aren’t enough, for products themselves need to be safer from both an ecological and health standpoint. Key to accomplishing this are product specific environmental standards, which are instrumental when it comes to keeping products contaminant free. Broad-based enshrining of eco-design criteria in industrial products can help to make them safer from an environmental standpoint and more readily recyclable across their entire lifecycles. Measures such as eco-labels and product energy-consumption information enable consumers to separate the wheat from the chaff in the realm of environmental pollution. UBA consumer advice provides consumers with information on how they can live more eco-friendly lives. But of course eco-friendly procurement is also a key factor when it comes to promoting the use of more eco-friendly products.
German Environment Agency co-champions global initiative for digital environmental sustainability
The United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, the Government of Kenya, Future Earth, and Sustainability in the Digital Age have joined forces to act as co-champions for a new global initiative called CODES (Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability). read more
State of the environment 2020: German Environment Agency draws a mixed picture
The "Environmental Monitor" for 2020 from the German Environment Agency (UBA) draws a mixed picture of the condition of the environment in Germany. While there have been recent improvements in air quality or greenhouse gases, other indicators fare poorly. read more
Many companies underestimate the risks of climate change
The consequences of climate change pose economic risks for companies. A recent study by the German Environment Agency (UBA) shows that only about half of the DAX 30 companies report publicly on these risks. None of the 100 largest companies studied provides information on whether the corporate strategy is resilient to stronger climate change. read more
The transnational impacts of global climate change
Climate change will affect the frequency, intensity and regional occurrence of extreme weather events and lead to gradual climatic changes. Although impacts appear locally at first, they spread beyond political borders due to the global physical and economic interconnectedness. A new UBA report provides an overview of the potential impact chains of global climate change on the German economy. read more
Resolute environmental protection will save society many billions of euros
Greenhouse gases, nitrogen emissions and other environmental pollution cause damage to human health and destroy ecosystems. They also lead to production losses, crop losses and damage to buildings and infrastructure. For many of these damages, there are established scientific methods to express them in monetary terms. read more
Climate impact of online retail and stationary trade depends on the product
Nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions in the life cycle of a product are generated as early as the production stage, says a study for the German Environment Agency (UBA) which focuses on the greenhouse gas emissions of online retail (“Greening E-Commerce”). The study reports that the share of retail and transport accounts for only one to ten percent of total emissions. read more
Ninth year of Federal Ecodesign Award for forward-looking projects
A virtual journey to a high alpine glacier, rescued crockery, recyclable denim production or the revival of old variety vegetables – the winners of the German Federal Ecodesign Award look for solutions to a more sustainable lifestyle with pioneering projects that are both ecological and excellent in their design. read more