Skip to main content

Our climate management activities in Germany and abroad

GIZ provides a transparent overview of its climate and environmental footprint. In Germany, it uses the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the world’s most exacting certification for corporate environmental management. 

In other countries, our environmental management is decentralised. GIZ has developed the Corporate Sustainability Handprint® (CSH) to monitor activities outside Germany as an alternative to EMAS, which cannot be used by the country offices. Since 2013, the CSH has provided staff with a uniform framework for evaluating their corporate sustainability, thereby also ensuring a standard framework for environmental management. In 2018, we switched from biannual reporting to annual collection of climate and environmental data.

Both EMAS and the CSH provide data for calculating GIZ’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which we publish annually. In doing so, we are guided by the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP). The GHGP distinguishes between direct and indirect emissions within three scopes:  

  • Scope 1: Direct sources of GHG emissions that are owned or controlled by the company, such as fuel for cars or heating energy; 
  • Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased energy such as electricity or district heating/cooling;
  • Scope 3: Other indirect emissions that lie along the value chain and therefore also within the responsibility of the company (e.g. business flights).

Moreover, GIZ has developed approaches to assess the impact of its projects on the climate. The impact may be positive if GHG emissions can be reduced by advising project partners abroad. However, it can also be negative if, for example, GHG emissions are generated from the construction and operation of infrastructure supported by GIZ. Systematic analytical steps in project appraisal aim to increase the positive impact and keep the negative impact to a minimum.

Climate management in the spotlight

‘As commission recipient and implementing organisation in diverse countries, GIZ has great potential to make a difference and to shape development. It is in a position to truly set standards.’

Jörg-Andreas Krüger, President of NABU e. V. (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union)
(© NABU / Die Hoffotografen)

Photo: GIZ: Jörg-Andreas Krüger

The principle: prevent, reduce, offset

GIZ aims to avoid GHG emissions, reduce emissions that cannot be avoided and offset all other emissions. We have been offsetting GHG emissions at our German locations since 2013. From 2020 onwards, this will also happen outside Germany.

In its Environmental Programme 2016–2020, GIZ set itself the objective of reducing its annual GHG emissions per employee by 2.5 per cent in Germany and 2 per cent in other countries in 2019. Under its Sustainability Programme, the company also committed to promoting healthy and environmentally friendly mobility by 2019. Business trips by employees, including flights and travel in GIZ vehicles, are the company’s main sources of emissions and therefore offer the greatest potential for reducing GHG emissions.


Wherever possible, GHG emissions should be prevented. This applies to all emission sources, such as electricity consumption and mobility. We are increasingly using modern conferencing technology to avoid business trips.


We seek to reduce GHG emissions by using renewable energy sources (green electricity) instead of fossil fuels, for example, or by making our facilities and equipment more efficient. We also see potential for reducing emissions from business trips, especially those involving flights.


GHG emissions that cannot be prevented or reduced are offset. To do this, we use climate certificates from projects with the most stringent international standards that meet the criteria of initiatives such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and/or the Gold Standard Foundation. In addition to reducing emissions, this also promotes social and environmental aspects.

‘When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, GIZ as an international institution faces major challenges, especially with regard to air travel. How do we intend to work internationally in future? What do we still need to be able to do? What will we have to do without? The coronavirus pandemic has fast-forwarded learning processes, and we must use these to achieve climate neutrality.’

Imme Scholz, Deputy Director of the German Development Institute (DIE) and Deputy Chairwoman of the German Council for Sustainable Development
(© German Development Institute, DIE)

Photo: GIZ: Imme Scholz

Our GHG emissions in Germany and abroad

Our GHG emissions in Germany totalled 29,669 tonnes in 2019. Compared with 2017, the GHG emissions produced by our staff in Germany rose by 18 per cent in 2019. This growth can be attributed to an increased number of staff (+31 per cent compared with 2017) and a higher volume of business (+19 per cent compared with 2017). By contrast, GHG emissions per capita fell by around 9 per cent between 2017 and 2019. GIZ therefore met its goal of reducing per capita emissions in Germany by 3 per cent for 2019. Mobility accounts for some 90 per cent of GHG emissions in Germany. GIZ introduced a range of measures in 2019 to improve its mobility statistics. These will be implemented over the next few years.

Grafik: GIZ: Treibhausgas-Emissionen im Inland und pro Mitarbeiter

1 FTE = full time equivalent

Even though challenges still exist in terms of data availability and quality, good progress is being made with mapping GHG emissions using the CSH. Absolute GHG emissions outside Germany reached 115,586 tonnes, making them roughly four times higher than GHG emissions in Germany. This is due to the large number of locations and staff. This figure equates to per capita GHG emissions of 6.34 tonnes. The year-on-year increase in 2019 is primarily due to increased data collection, as we have been recording GHG emissions from coolants as well as district heating and cooling since 2019.

‘Climate and environmental data from other countries is not yet as valid and authoritative as the German figures, but we’re constantly striving to improve this situation. We’re working with our colleagues abroad to tackle challenges concerning the availability and quality of data and are pleased that our working relationship over the past year has been so successful.’

Marie Rossetti, Senior Policy Advisor, responsible for the CSH within the Quality and Sustainability Section
(© Marie Rossetti)

Photo: GIZ: Marie Rossetti

We have been using a new extrapolation system since 2019, as complete consumption data is not available for all locations. This allows us to record our consumption more precisely and use average figures from individual countries to extrapolate missing data.

GHG emissions

Total GHG emissions201720182019201720182019
Total GHG emissions in tonnes (t)25,16628,66929,669100,32798,135115,586
Total GHG emissions per capita in t6.266.475.695.985.686.34
Scope 1      
Natural gas heating in t CO2e1,9202,2582,3398478981,850
Fuel used by company vehicles in t CO2e5341238,94910,53711,550
Coolants in t CO2e628589Data not collected in CSH4,048
Generators in t CO2e3331,5771,3921,765
Scope 2      
Electricity in t CO2e42048245810,4738,8419,693
District heating in t CO2e351422429Data not collected in CSH351
District cooling in t CO2e144035Data not collected in CSH76
Scope 3      
Commuting in t CO2e3,1433,4833,018Data not collected in CSH
Business trips in t CO2e19,20021,85523,27578,48176,46886,254
1 The data for Germany corresponds to the balance on 18 November 2020. Due to better availability of data, some figures have been updated for 2018 and 2019.
 2 The assessment system for other countries was expanded in 2019 and previous publications may show other data. Figures for 2017 are based on data from 2016 and 2017. Up until that point, environmental data was assessed on a biannual basis. Since 2018, environmental data has been collected annually in all CSH countries. From 2019 onwards, a new extrapolation system will also be used.

Other air emissions in Germany

The category ‘other air emissions’ covers emissions from business trips, company vehicles, commuting by employees, and electricity and heating consumption. Other air emissions are not recorded outside of Germany.

Nox (nitrogen oxides) in kg12,12013,87914,890
SO2 (sulphur dioxide) in kg9,22510,62111,059
PM 10 (particulate matter) in kg482549590
1 The data for Germany corresponds to the balance on 18 November 2020. Due to better availability of data, some figures have been updated for 2018 and 2019.

Additional emissions mapped in Germany

In addition to these emissions, we have also documented other GHG emissions as a pilot initiative, but have yet to make them climate neutral. This category includes GHG emissions generated from the manufacturing and provision of materials and equipment, such as laptops, PCs and monitors.

The laptops purchased in Germany in 2019 account for around 2,000 t CO2e. Added to this are some 570 t CO2e for purchased PCs and around 1,500 t CO2e for purchased monitors. The smartphones and tablets purchased in 2019 account for some 110 t CO2e. Around 1,200 t CO2e was generated from transporting these and other products to the country offices in 2019. The figure for 2018 was around 920 t CO2e.

We also use a tool to estimate commuting emissions abroad based on employee numbers. This gives a figure of around 9,900 t CO2e for 2018 and approximately 11,000 t CO2e for 2019.

Climate and environmental data 2019

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 13 Climate action

GRI standards 305 (305-1, 305-2, 305-3, 305-5, 305-7), 307; UNGC 7, 8, 9; The Code 13