Climate change management and sustainable mobility

Climate action is one of GIZ’s declared goals. Since 2020, GIZ has achieved climate neutrality by offsetting its greenhouse gas emissions. But that is not enough. GIZ is working to further reduce or avoid greenhouse gases – and has set ambitious targets for the future. 

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GIZ works with many partners in over 500 projects to contribute to climate change mitigation. But climate change mitigation also plays a central role in its own business activities. 

Carbon offsetting at highest standards

Since 2013, GIZ has been offsetting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Germany and, since 2020, this applies to all its emissions worldwide. To this end, it uses climate certificates in accordance with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Gold Standard for the Global Goals, which is the highest quality standard. This standard ensures that projects not only reduce GHG emissions, but also have positive social and economic impacts for people.  This means that all of GIZ’s operations have been climate neutral since 2020.

New targets for lower emissions

However, this step was a mere milestone for GIZ. In future, the aim is to avoid and mitigate significantly more GHGs. With this in mind, at the end of 2020, GIZ adopted a new Sustainability Programme for 2021-2025. The core aim of the Sustainability Programme is to mitigate climate change. A key goal is to participate in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and set an ambitious and science-based GHG reduction target. SBTi supports companies in setting, monitoring and achieving climate targets. These are to be consistent with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C as set out under the Paris Agreement.

GIZ is pursuing a policy of transparency in lowering emissions. The company records all significant sources of emissions both in Germany and abroad. Within Germany, it uses EMAS (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 can be found in the EMAS environmental statement and the Environmental and Climate Data in GIZ’ Integrated Company Report. GHG emissions that have not yet been systematically recorded – such as those of subcontractors – are also to be recorded in future. 

GIZ has put a number of measures in place to bring its GHG emissions down permanently. Video conferencing is replacing flights, and moreover, biogas and green electricity are predominantly used in Germany, along with climate-friendly refrigerants. GIZ’s new buildings meet the highest sustainability standards. GHG emissions are also to be further reduced abroad, for example, by increasing use of electricity from renewable sources and switching to air conditioning systems that use climate-friendly refrigerants. 

Sustainable mobility

Being both 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 on its agenda.


Air travel for business purposes is the largest source of GIZ’s total emissions (at approximately 75 per cent), so it is also the greatest lever for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The company wants both to avoid emissions and to reduce the emissions generated by travel. To avoid business travel-related GHG emissions, the company has developed criteria for essential travel. Managers and staff can help meet these criteria by travelling only when absolutely necessary and if so, by taking environmentally friendly modes of transport.

Mobility is also playing an increasingly important role in reducing GHG emissions at assignment locations: Given our fleet of almost 3,000 motor vehicles, measures to reduce their use, such as carpooling or gradually switching to e-mobility, offer additional large levers for change. In this way, GIZ aims to reduce GHG emissions from its fuel consumption abroad by 14% by 2025 compared with 2019 levels.

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. Since 2019, greenhouse gas emissions directly caused by a project are calculated in advance in the course of project planning. If it is determined that a project will generate a significant amount of emissions, for example, due to an extensive amount of travel or due to high energy consumption, appropriate measures to reduce the carbon footprint are identified and implemented. An evaluation of around 900 projects has shown that the vast majority are planned in a way that is climate-compatible, with only small volumes of unintended greenhouse gas emissions produced.   

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 results can also be found in the Environmental and climate data in GIZ’s Integrated Company Report.