Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions

Video: The funding area "Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions" in a nutshell

A limitation of global warming to well below 2°C or even below 1.5°C requires a fundamental restructuring of important areas in the economy and society. This includes the use of renewable energies, increasing energy efficiency, reducing extremely climate-damaging fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) as well as sustainable mobility and city planning. The development of a climate and resource-friendly recycling and waste management combined with sustainable production and consumption (SCP) contribute to the achievement of the climate targets, especially in the mitigation context.

In the mitigation context, IKI supports partner countries in the development and implementation of innovative instruments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is a transformation towards a sustainable and low-emission economy and supply structure. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), in which the contracting states to the Paris Agreement formulate their reduction targets, are of great relevance for this purpose. In addition, Low Carbon Development Strategies (LCDS), National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), and Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems, as well as mitigation activities, are being developed. Numerous projects continue to pursue the goal of mobilizing additional public and private capital for climate change.

In the area of mitigation, the conceptual focus is on policy advice, capacity building and suitable training measures as well as technology cooperation. The IKI projects are focusing on the increasingly important regional level in their implementation. By the end of 2017, more than 300 projects had been approved in the area of mitigation. These include so-called lighthouse projects, which are characterized by particularly high visibility in the partner countries and the international climate dialogue.


Economic development is associated with rising GHG emissions and the increased consumption of resources and energy – and it usually has negative consequences for the environment. At the same time, however, economic development is an important instrument for combating poverty. This is why IKI projects support various approaches to decouple economic growth from rising GHG emissions.

LCDS and NAMAs are instruments resulting from the UNFCCC negotiations. They are important milestones on the road to achieving the NDCs and the global goal of reducing net GHG emissions to zero over the next few decades, a goal which is anchored in the Paris Agreement. Both instruments support the sustainable and ambitious mitigation efforts of developing countries.

‘Green Economy’ approaches address the welfare of people and social justice and Green Economy simultaneously reduces environmental risks and ecological scarcity. The development and implementation of cross-sector, long-term climate change mitigation strategies should create a structured orientation framework for climate policy. Ideally, this framework can be used as a basis for generating aggregated mitigation contributions and carrying out sectoral actions. One example of these measures are NAMAs – voluntary sectoral actions in the form of projects, programmes, and guidelines – and these help the governments of emerging and developing countries to mitigate GHG emissions.

An MRV system can be used to evaluate whether the planned reductions are actually achieved. Data on mitigation measures and GHG emissions is first compiled, then the information is processed in the form of reports and inventories and ultimately reviewed in an international process. The system is designed to ensure transparency and an internationally comparable level of information on the progress made in GHG mitigation. The ‘Partnership on Transparency in the Paris Agreement’  promotes the exchange of practical experience on mitigation and MRV between the participating countries, thus contributing to a collective understanding of what is necessary and feasible in terms of MRV.

IKI projects help partner countries develop LCDS and proposals for NAMAs, open up funding opportunities, and implement specific measures. They promote the transnational and cross-sectoral exchange of experiences and test various instruments for the development and implementation of mitigation actions. The projects that are focused on MRV mainly support the development of stringent international, national, sub-national, sectoral and company-related MRV systems (voluntary or mandatory in the latter case).

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Sustainable energy supply

Energy production and consumption are responsible for around two thirds of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If global warming is to be limited to less than 2°C, a substantial development of sustainable and low-emission energy provision for industrial and domestic consumption is crucial. Increasing energy efficiency in buildings and industry also offers one of the most economic and effective means of reducing GHGs. Alongside wider use of renewable energies, other measures include appropriate expansion of power grids, intelligent power management systems and the use of storage technologies. In the Paris Agreement, the issue of energy is a key component in efforts to limit global warming. Accordingly over 90% of states have announced measures relating to the energy sector as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

In developing and emerging countries, economic development is generally accorded higher priority than climate change mitigation. However, development of renewable energies offers numerous benefits for these countries: it increases supply security, obviates the need for energy import, and brings with it cost certainty and improved energy access. Investment results in long-term value creation and generates new jobs. In spite of this, energy policy is often drafted independently of climate policy. In order to alleviate this discrepancy, the co-benefits listed above are defined as an additional value for partner countries that goes beyond the intended objective of climate change mitigation.

The energy partnerships supported by the German International Climate Initiative (IKI) focus on improving underlying conditions on both the supply and demand side. The objective of the projects is to accelerate transition to an affordable low-carbon energy infrastructure, with a view to supporting the climate-policy goals of partner countries. IKI projects work hand in hand with public and private stakeholders to develop the political and economic requirements for a sustainable energy sector. These include not only implementation of studies and analyses of the energy market, adaptation and further development of legal guidelines and legislative initiatives, but also targeted measures for advanced training and instruction and technology transfer.

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Sustainable consumption and production, circular economy, resource and waste management

Population growth, urbanisation and economic growth are causing a relentless rise in the consumption of resources, which is in turn leading to the production of ever greater quantities of waste. To avoid this problem, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns are just as important as the efficient use, reuse and exploitation of resources – which includes avoidable waste, such as residual materials and wastewater from industry and households alike.

The excessive use of resources and the careless disposal of waste result in significant emissions of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution. For this reason, the climate strategies of many partner countries also include measures in the waste sector, as well as crosscutting topics, such as sustainable consumption and production, resource use and recycling. Waste is a priority area for IKI support, and IKI projects are committed, among other things, to increasing the quality of life of local people by enhancing the standards of water, air and soil, and improving hygiene conditions. Moreover, they work for the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, which are important, in turn, for natural processes and act as natural carbon sinks. For this reason, IKI projects strive to establish stronger links between the international climate negotiations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) formulated in the global sustainability agenda, Agenda 2030, in which such topics play a significant role.

In many of its partner countries, the IKI runs measures to promote the relevant policy frameworks, institutional structures and expertise for sustainable consumption and production approaches. Its projects develop environmental and social standards and information systems; they examine holistic life cycles for products, and they optimise local value chains. Sustainable structures are being set up for waste management which, besides reducing emissions of CO2, methane and other volatile substances, also enable the use of solid waste as a source of energy and materials. Integrated approaches are preferred, which involve the national policy level as well as relevant stakeholders from the private sector and civil society, for example.

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Sustainable mobility

The transport sector is responsible for over a quarter of global energy-related CO2 emissions and is the fastest growing climate-relevant economic sector. Achievement of the climate targets agreed in Paris will require almost complete decarbonisation of the transport sector. If steps are not taken promptly to counter current trends in mobility, we risk an emissions ‘lock-in’ in the form of a markedly car-centred transport infrastructure.

In addition to improving personal mobility, the most effective approach to countering growing individual motorisation and concomitant problems worldwide, such as air pollution and road traffic accidents, is Avoid – Shift – Improve – Fuel Switch. This approach reduces unnecessary journeys, promotes the shift to more environmentally friendly modes of transport for people and goods, improves transport efficiency and decarbonises fuels and energy sources used by the transport sector.

Many of the solutions to shaping sustainable mobility are already available and have been trialled. In order to create clean, safe, affordable and achievable mobility, the IKI actively promotes urban public transport and the integration of cycle and pedestrian routes. Support is provided to partner countries to increasingly invest their financial resources in sustainable projects addressing both freight and passenger transport and e-mobility. The mobility portfolio also includes projects involving shipping and alternative fuels. The IKI therefore covers a broad spectrum of sustainable mobility solutions.

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F gases

Despite their extremely powerful global warming effect, fluorinated greenhouse gases, also known as ‘F gases’, are still commonly used as coolants or chemical blowing agents in applications such as air conditioning and refrigeration units, and in foams and insulation materials.

As a result of the rapidly growing global population combined with the general rise in living standards, the demand for refrigeration equipment and air-conditioning is increasing. This leads to greater emissions, either directly from the release of F gases or indirectly through the energy used for the cooling technologies. According to Germany’s environmental protection agency, the UBA, by 2050 we can expect F gas emissions to rise to the equivalent of 7.9 per cent of global direct emissions of CO2. Measures to reduce fluorinated greenhouse gases can therefore contribute significantly to mitigating climate change. The potential for reductions is now reflected in the 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, in which the parties agreed to a gradual global reduction of the damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). It is estimated that avoiding direct and indirect F gas emissions could help moderate global warming by as much as 0.5 °C.

F gases are primarily anthropogenic in origin, and they can easily be replaced by natural coolants such as ammoniac or hydrocarbons. Ever since its launch, the IKI has promoted the use of climate friendly cooling technologies worldwide. This supports both international and national cooperation in the field of climate and ozone protection policies. IKI projects are working for a sector-wide transformation, with the establishment of technologies using natural coolants in combination with renewable energies and energy efficiency. This requires a solid basis of data, as well as international standards and legal frameworks. IKI is also strengthening institutional and technical capacities in its partner countries, and dismantling the barriers to finance. To complement the technology transfer, it uses technical cooperation and pilot demonstrations. These illustrate the advantages of new technological solutions, while building confidence in dealing with the heightened safety standards.

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Carbon Market

A global carbon market is based on the concept that carbon emissions have an economic value. The idea is the creation of incentives to reduce global carbon emissions in total where it is possible at the lowest cost. Since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, different options are available: the trade of emissions within emission trading schemes (ETS) and project-based mechanisms like Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) or Joint Implementation (JI), using tradable certificates. Thus, investments by a business in climate friendly technologies are promoted. The Paris Agreement also contains a guidance to the development of a global carbon market: Article 6 includes transparent accounting system for GHG emissions of all countries.

The BMUB supports the development of a global carbon market through various forums, that strengthen a global focus, design robust regulations and standards for the use of carbon markets and that organize a knowledge transfer between countries.

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Further Information

Building Capacity Transparency and MRV

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Building Capacity for NAMAs

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Opportunities of Sustainable Mobility

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