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Carbon Neutral Business Trips of the Federal Government

Background and Objective

In 2015, the German Federal Government decided to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from business travel conducted by employees of ministries and subordinate national authorities. The programme covers greenhouse gas emissions from car trips and air travel of employees using high-quality emission certificates that come with additional contributions to sustainable development. The measure is part of the government's "Avoid - Reduce - Offset" strategy. This includes the reduction or avoidance of emissions caused by business travel and the compensation of unavoidable emissions by investing in emission reductions elsewhere.


The programme “Carbon Neutral Business Trips of the Federal Government” started by offsetting the emissions from the legislation period 2014 to 2017 but is being extended on a yearly basis.

The calculated GHG emissions produced through governmental business trips are offset by acquiring Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) stemming from the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. To offset the climate impact of business travel, one credit is acquired for every tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted (t CO2e). The credits are then transferred to an account at the German Emissions Trading Registry and cancelled immediately after their acquisition to make sure that any further use of the certificates is excluded. When selecting CDM projects, care is taken that projects not only fulfil UN rules for the CDM, but that they show impact over and above the mere carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction in that they also contribute to the sustainable development of the host countries. Further quality criteria include an additional Gold Standard certification if possible, an embedding into the climate change policies of the host country and the promotion of small programmatic projects if possible from the least developed countries.

Milestones and Outlook

Since 2014, the German government has purchased and cancelled credits for a total of 1,184,306 tonnes of CO2 (as of May 2020). Most emission reduction credits were generated in Asia and Africa (617.469 CERs and 518.799 CERs) and come from Household biogas and stove projects (525.240 CERs and 408.963 CERs). German federal states are following the Federal Government’s example and have begun establishing their own compensation schemes.

Carbon Neutral Business Trips of the Federal Government

Countries: Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda

Role of BMWK: BMWK-financed

Lifecycle: since 2014

Implementation: Federal Environment Agency

Other Organisations Involved: German Federal Government

Further Information: Website of the German Environment Agency

Contact: Frank Wolke,

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