The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is a supersized economy in Germany and Europe with a GDP of over EUR 500 billion per annum. 33 out of Germany’s top 100 companies, including coal and steel, chemical, machinery and automobile companies, are located in the state in addition to thousands of other smaller companies. With large economic output comes large demand for energy: 34% of Germany’s primary energy production occurs in the state and 32% of the nation’s energy consumption occurs there. As a consequence, 33% of Germany’s carbon emissions are produced in the state
Decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions
To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions NRW’s EnergyAgency.NRW has begun trialing a carbon reduction program with 13 medium-sized enterprises from energy-intensive industries, including the chemicals, steel and plastics/plastic fiber processing industries. Since 2015, the agency assists participating companies in identifying and balancing their carbon emissions. An important aspect of the trial is adequate documentation of relevant energy flows and energy consumption enabling the agency to develop a tailored climate protection strategy for each company. The companies also participate in workshops where they receive instruction in data acquisition enabling them to draft their own Corporate Carbon Footprints (CCF).
Online toolbox for developing climate protection strategies
The knowledge and experience gained in the trial is being used to develop an online toolbox for other companies and consultants. The toolbox, CCF.NAVI, provides information along with checklists to aid in the development of corporate climate strategies and drafting of carbon footprints. In addition, users will be provided with information on meeting economic and political requirements for example reporting of emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
Rather than relying solely on regulations, governments can facilitate the private sector’s development of climate protection strategies by supporting innovative pilots and developing online information sources.