Berlin: Germany on 28 February agreed to make all trips on government business “carbon neutral”, joining a recent trend among companies and individuals in Europe to offset the environmental impact of trips by car and plane.
Keen to demonstrate its environmental credentials during its six-month presidency of the European Union, Germany will “offset” the emissions produced by the journeys taken by government employees and ministers from 2007 onwards.
This will include all ministerial flights on the country’s official aircraft and journeys made in the government’s fleet of cars, Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement.
“With this step the federal government is setting a good example and is also making a clear signal of the need for more climate protection given the alarming revelations about climate change,” Gabriel said.
Carbon offsetting involves paying others to cut or compensate for emissions on your behalf, for example by planting trees or building wind farms.
The programme will cost the government three to four million euros ($4-$5.3 million), the environment ministry said, a sum that will be included in the 2008 budget.
Germany is Europe’s biggest polluter and has a history of defending its heavy industry against environmentally-friendly legislation. It put up resistance to a cap by the European Commission on carbon dioxide emissions earlier this year and also complained over new EU emissions limits for cars.