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The overall goal is still to avoid emissions

Effective climate action starts with accurate data

We can only make progress on climate action on the basis of accurately measured data, which is why GIZ records all its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Both EMAS and the CSH provide data for calculating GIZ’s GHG emissions, which we publish annually. In doing so, we are guided by the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP). It distinguishes between direct and indirect emissions in three ‘scopes’: 

  • Scope 1: Direct sources of GHG emissions that are owned or controlled by the company, such as fuel for motor vehicles 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.

GIZ is now climate-neutral worldwide

Wherever possible, GHG emissions are prevented or mitigated. This applies to all sources of our emissions. To achieve this objective, a great many steps have been taken in our properties in Germany and our country offices in partner countries (see Resource Consumption and Energy Consumption). But GIZ’s greatest leverage must be seen in the field of mobility (see Mobility). Not all greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided, however. GIZ has therefore been using high-quality climate certificates to offset its unavoidable emissions in Germany since 2013. Since 2020, it has also been offsetting greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its activities in its partner countries. These include emissions from air travel, electricity and heating. This reduction, in conjunction with offsetting, means that GIZ as a whole is now climate-neutral.1

We use climate certificates that comply with the most rigorous international quality standards when it comes to offsetting emissions. They are certified according to the Gold Standard and are issued by the international Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This ensures that offsetting projects not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also have positive social and environmental impacts.

Prevention, however, is always better than offsetting. That is why our overall goal is still to have to offset as few emissions as possible, and that means preventing and reducing as many emissions as is feasible.

1 In the sense that it generates net zero greenhouse gas emissions: the emissions that GIZ cannot avoid are offset by retiring high-quality climate certificates from projects where greenhouse gas emissions were successfully reduced.

Our GHG emissions in Germany and abroad in 2020

Our GHG emissions in Germany totalled 7,598 tonnes in 2020. Compared with 2019, the GHG emissions produced by our staff in Germany were 74 per cent down in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was the main factor in this reduction, with its drastic impact on office-based activities and travel. GHG emissions resulting from remote working are not included in the figures. Mobility accounts for some 63 per cent of all GHG emissions in Germany. These emissions fell by 82 per cent compared to 2019, in spite of the increased workforce. GIZ’s Germany-based workforce rose by 9 per cent compared to 2019. GHG emissions per capita inside Germany were 77 per cent down as a result of the pandemic. GIZ therefore significantly exceeded its goal for 2020 of reducing per capita emissions in Germany by 3 per cent. We want to preserve these achievements even after the pandemic. In 2020, various steps were taken to ensure further progress in the years to come, irrespective of any future impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the right track outside Germany

Even though challenges still exist in terms of data availability and quality, good progress is being made with mapping GHG emissions at the country offices using the CSH. At 43,711 tonnes, absolute GHG emissions outside Germany are roughly six times higher than in Germany. This is due to the large number of locations and staff. But here, too, we have seen a reduction in emissions, which were 62 per cent lower than in 2019. Per capita emissions were 2.31 tonnes (which marked a reduction of 64 per cent compared to 2019). Again, the main factor behind this reduction was the drop in travel and office-based activities, just as it was in Germany. To place the reductions in Germany and abroad in context, it should be pointed out that the business volume in 2020 was 9 per cent higher than in 2019.

GHG emissions

Total GHG emissions201820192020201820192020
Total GHG emissions in tonnes (t)229.02529.7947.59898.135115.58643.711
Total number of staff (FTE)4.625.4976.01617.28418.22818.962
Total GHG emissions per capita (t)198762605410959249591257111355
Scope 1      
Natural gas heating (t CO2e)2.6272.4282.2368981.852.383
Fuel used by company vehicles
(t CO2e)
Coolants (t CO2e)858923data not collected in CSH4.0483.876
Generators (t CO2e)3371.3921.7652.256
Scope 2      
Electricity (CO2e)4724553898.8419.6936.904
District heating (t CO2e)416443137data not collected in CSH351574
District cooling (t CO2e)443527data not collected in CSH760.48
Scope 3      
Commuting (t CO2e)3.4833.0421.587data not collected in CSH
Business trips (t CO2e)21.85523.2753.17976.46886.25419.481

2 The improved quality of data and modified methodology used in calculations mean that these figures may deviate in part from figures previously published. More information is available in Climate and Environmental Data.

Piloting the mapping of additional emissions

In addition to these emissions, we also document other GHG emissions on a pilot basis, but the data quality is not yet adequate. We use estimates that are as precise as possible. This includes GHG emissions generated from the manufacture and provision of centrally procured materials and equipment, such as laptops, PCs and monitors.

Laptops purchased through the central framework agreement accounted for around 976 t CO2e in 2020. To this must be added around 477 t CO2e generated by centrally procured monitors. The smartphones and tablets purchased by Head Office in 2020 accounted for some 77 t CO2e. The transport of these appliances and other products procured under central framework agreements to the country offices was responsible for around 800 t CO2e in 2020.

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 305