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Avoiding emissions is our top priority

Icon: A cloud showing the word CO2 in front of a sun

GIZ is firmly committed to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target. Climate action is one of our key concerns, which is why we strive to continuously improve our climate footprint by reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For more details of GIZ’s climate management, see Our climate management.

Below are the climate management results from the 2021 reporting year:

  • Direct and indirect GHG emissions from buildings and vehicles are down by about 13 per cent on 2019. Indirect emissions from the upstream and downstream value chain have decreased by roughly 15 per cent.
  • We have expanded and integrated our climate footprint calculation system to improve the collection of data on upstream and downstream GHG emissions.

Overview of direct and indirect GHG emissions from buildings and vehicles

Interpreting emissions data from past years is a challenge. It is difficult to attribute a reason to changes – partly because numerous environmental measures have been implemented and partly because the COVID-19 pandemic has distorted the data. On the one hand, buildings were not used as much and there were fewer events. On the other hand, windows were opened more often, which resulted in higher consumption of heating energy. People are still making widespread use of the mobile working option.

We have pledged to reduce our direct and indirect emissions – Scope 1 and 2 – by 30 per cent by 2025 compared to 2019. The degree of fulfilment in 2021 was 13 per cent. The progress made is mainly due to reductions achieved in Germany. 2019 was selected as the base year for the targets because from 2020 onwards the COVID-19 pandemic caused distortions. Data have also been recalculated to facilitate better comparability between years.

Targeted environmental measures in Germany included switching from natural gas to biomethane and increased use of electric vehicles. Measures abroad included installing new photovoltaic systems on office roofs, procuring additional electric vehicles and organising awareness-raising events for employees on topics such as sustainable mobility, and energy and resource consumption. Savings in direct emissions from Scope 1 occurred mainly in Germany as a result of the switch to biomethane. However, these savings were cancelled out in total by increased emissions from fuels and generators abroad. Indirect energy-related emissions from Scope 2 also increased in the previous year. This is primarily due to increased electricity consumption at locations abroad.

We have offset emissions in Germany in Scope 1 and 2 since 2013, while emissions abroad have been offset since 2020. Further information can be found in Climate and Environmental Data (PDF).

Scope 1      
Heating in t CO2e2,7602,1211,019²1,8502,3832,957
Fuel used by company vehicles in t CO2e23131011,5508,2369,258
Refrigerants in t CO2e312384,0483,8764,160
Generators in t CO2e3761,7652,2561,574
Scope 2      
Electricity in t CO2e361290242²9,6936,9048,446²
District heating in t CO2e177171172351574415
District cooling in t CO2e4737517600

1 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.
2 Biomethane has been used for heating at most locations in Germany since 2021. Of the total 1,019 t CO2e, 147.32 t CO2e are directly attributable to emissions from biomethane.
3 Emissions from electricity in Germany were calculated using the market-based method. The location-based method puts emissions in 2021 at CO2e. We use the location-based method for our sites abroad. There is no data available from the market-based method.

Indirect emissions from the value chain

We also record GHG emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream value chain – Scope 3 – as far as possible. GIZ can control and influence these indirect emissions only to a very limited extent. GIZ has committed to reducing absolute Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions from purchased goods and services, fuel and energy-related activities, business travel and staff commuting by 10 per cent between 2019 and 2025. The current degree of achievement is a reduction of 15 per cent compared to 2019. Again, 2019 was used as the base year for measuring progress because there were as yet no pandemic-related distortions. The data are updated annually and, if new information is available, results from previous years are corrected.

Collecting data on Scope 3 emissions is challenging because the quality of the data varies widely. This means that only certain emission sources – such as business trips – can be accurately accounted for, while for others – such as procurement – only estimates are available. Efforts to obtain primary data for individual product groups (IT equipment or motor vehicles, for example) have proved to be extremely complex and have produced only incomplete results. This has prompted us to use the Scope 3 Evaluator from Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Quantis to calculate estimates for all purchased goods and services based on the expenditure we have incurred.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is reflected in emissions trends. Scope 3 emissions have decreased mainly due to reduced mobility during the pandemic. Emissions from commuting have fallen as the number of employees choosing mobile working options has risen since the pandemic. However, a number of targeted measures have also contributed to cutting emissions. Wherever possible, business travel is being replaced by online meetings or reduced by grouping appointments. These approaches were already successfully applied during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bicycle infrastructure at the locations has also been improved. Furthermore, all events now meet sustainability criteria and their GHG emissions are accounted for. However, COVID-19 caused distortions here too: the fact that very few events took place during the pandemic meant that the carbon footprint in this area was correspondingly small. A new addition to the accounting procedure is a more precise calculation of upstream fuel and energy-related emissions, such as those caused by the transport of energy.

Since we cannot reduce total GHG emissions from the various sources, we offset those that are directly related to our operations. For 2021, these are emissions from commuting in Germany and from business trips in Germany and abroad, events in Germany, and fuel- and energy-related emissions in Germany and abroad. The other emission sources are beyond GIZ’s control and in some cases we can only record them on the basis of rough estimates. They are not offset.

You can find more information in the PDF document Climate and environmental data.

Scope 3      
Purchased goods and services² in t CO2e132,223136,910155,34161,78954,81584,035
Fuel- and energy-related emissions³ in t CO2e3132812058,2766,3226,020
Business trips in t CO2e23,2753,1792,79886,25419,48123,163
Commuting4 in t CO2e3,0421,5871,07810,0084,3964,624
Events in t CO2eData not collected Data not collected 36Data not collected in CSH

1 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.
2 Estimate based on financial data. These are emissions only from purchased services that are essential for GIZ. Construction services are not included.
3 Fuel and energy-related emissions in Scope 3 in Germany were recalculated for 2019 to 2021 using the raw data for Scope 1 and 2. Emissions abroad were estimated for 2019 and 2020, but they too have been calculated exactly since 2021.
4 Commuting levels abroad were roughly estimated for 2019 on the basis of standardised figures. From 2020 onwards, the figures are derived from an extrapolation based on the results of an internal survey of selected locations abroad.

Target achievement was as follows:

 The company as a whole
Scope 1 + 2 in t CO2e32,73726,89228,318
Scope 3 in t CO2e325,180226,970277,264

Some of the totals differ from the figures already published because more accurate recalculations have improved the data quality.

Information on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be found on this page:

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 13 Climate action

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 105