The emission reduction credits come only from projects that can demonstrate that they operate sustainably and that are certified in line with the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As well as offsetting emissions, the German government is thus also supporting sustainable projects, such as those in Nepal and Zambia. In Nepal biogas plants are being built that use harvest residues and waste to generate power. In Zambia, the emission reduction credits are making it possible to install modern, efficient cook stoves in rural parts of the country, thus improving the situation of local people in these areas.
No travel better than offsetting
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze stressed, "Whenever possible the best choice for the climate is not to fly." Many flights can be avoided simply by using video conferences, she added. "Offsetting CO2 emissions only makes sense where there is no alternative to travel."
Which trips does the government offset?
The German government offsets the adverse climate impacts of all business trips undertaken by staff. It has currently done so for 2017. The official travel covers road travel and flights undertaken by the staff of 121 ministries and federal agencies. The costs of offsetting emissions totals 1.7 million euros.
The good news is that compared to previous years this figure has risen. What is new is that all federal agencies that are part of the government’s sustainability programme now offset emissions caused by official travel.
The German Environment Agency (UBA) administers the entire scheme. It calculates the figures, acquires emission reduction credits and surrenders these. Most recently, these activities were based on the business travel data for 2017. The UBA has calculated the greenhouse gas emissions caused by every flight and the fuel consumption for every trip taken by road.
What projects are supported?
The emission reduction credits must meet stringent quality criteria. The German government thus selects projects that offer a high rate of additional benefits for sustainable development. In addition to the criteria of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, there are a number of other criteria that must be met. The project can, for instance, improve the supply of clean drinking water, build biogas plants the generate electricity from waste, or help develop and consolidate the use of renewable energy.
Get involved! The German Environment Agency offers an online service that explains how you can voluntarily offset emissions by supporting climate protection projects. Find out more about offsetting emissions at www.umweltbundesamt.de .