Climate change management and sustainable mobility

GIZ aims to be climate-neutral in its operations. This means avoiding or reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GHG emissions that cannot be prevented or reduced – unavoidable emissions – are offset.

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Climate neutrality is a major challenge for a company like GIZ that operates around the world. Delivering quality, effectiveness and sustainability in project work requires GIZ employees to be present on the ground. Only then can they work with local partners to improve people’s living conditions. But climate change mitigation requires us to reduce travel to a minimum – especially air travel.

GIZ’s main strategy in tackling this challenge is transparency. The company records all significant sources of emissions both in Germany and abroad. Within Germany, it uses EMAS (the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme); outside Germany, it uses the Corporate Sustainability Handprint® (CSH) instrument. Emissions are recorded in line with the international requirements of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. GIZ’s current GHG emissions are set out in the EMAS Environmental Statement and GIZ’s own Climate and Environmental Report.

GIZ has put a number of measures in place to bring its GHG emissions down permanently. Video conferencing is replacing flights, most of the company’s electricity is now generated from renewables, and its buildings use the latest technology to reduce energy consumption. For 2020, GIZ has set itself the target of reducing its per capita GHG emissions by 3 per cent within Germany and by 2.5 per cent abroad, both compared with 2019.

Offsetting to the highest standards

Despite everyone’s best efforts, greenhouse gas emissions cannot be avoided completely. Since 2013, GIZ has been offsetting its emissions in Germany. Its annual GHG emissions are between 20,000 and 26,000 tonnes of CO2. Emissions certificates are generated by projects certified by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and in line with rigorous international sustainability criteria, such as the Gold Standard for the Global Goals. These not only cut emissions but also achieve social and environmental improvements. From 2020, emissions from locations outside Germany will also be offset, enabling the entire company to be climate-neutral.

Sustainable mobility

Being mobile and local is part of the way GIZ does business and provides services. However, climate change is forcing us to challenge the way we manage our mobility and to make it more sustainable. GIZ is aware of the impact that regular long-haul travel has on the climate, so the company is putting the issue of sustainable mobility very high up its agenda.


Air travel for business purposes is the largest source of GIZ’s total emissions, so it is also the greatest lever for reducing emissions. The company wants both to avoid emissions and to reduce the emissions generated by travel. To avoid travel-related GHG emissions, the company has put in place criteria for essential travel. Managers and staff can help meet these criteria by travelling only when really necessary and taking environmentally friendly forms of transport when they do.

Breaking new ground: pilot project assesses climate impact of projects

GIZ is concerned not just about its company emissions but also about the impact – positive and negative – its projects have on the climate. By estimating the carbon footprint of its projects, GIZ is breaking new ground. The first pilot of the approach saw it taking account of the GHGs created through use of infrastructure during the term of a GIZ project, such as training centres, wastewater processing plants or waste tips, for example. The calculation also includes emissions caused by travel to workshops and training events. Positive impacts on the climate – that is, reduced or avoided greenhouse gas emissions that are attributable to advisory services and activities provided by GIZ’s projects – are regularly recorded as part of company-wide aggregated results data. These figures can also be found in the Climate and Environmental Report 2018.