​Energy and Climate Protection

Contribution 4 of the introductory series on environmental protection. In the article on immission protection, I already announced that I would consider energy and climate protection separately from immission protection.

You can find the other articles in this series here:
Part 1: Waste management
Part 2: Air pollution control
Part 3: Water protection

​Isn’t that clean air management?

Yes, at least in the conventional sense: climate protection is essentially about reducing emissions of pollutants into the air. Think of the global climate goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 °C. We want to achieve this essentially by reducing CO2 emissions. We want to achieve this essentially by reducing CO2 emissions.

Most of the CO2 emissions as well as other pollutants result from the consumption of fossil fuels, coal, oil, natural gas. Interestingly, nuclear energy is also massively involved due to the costly mining.

Compared to emissions from industrial process installations, significant amounts of emissions from energy consumption come from small sources such as domestic heating. Much comes from diffuse sources such as road traffic.

These cannot be controlled so easily, i.e. changed via permit obligations and limit values, although these mechanisms do exist. One reason for the introduction of national emissions trading (“CO2 price”).

​What is special about energy and climate protection?

In global emissions trading, we have learned that if the price of CO2 Certificates is high enough, industry will make an effort to reduce emissions.

Since 2021, we have also been feeling the effects of emissions trading privately. The German Peak Efficiency Scheme Ordinance has been in effect since 2015. Great word, I didn’t want to deprive you of it. But what’s in it? In simple words:

Companies wishing to benefit from tax relief in the area of energy must provide something in return. This consideration must increase energy efficiency, i.e. improve the ratio of energy used to products or services produced. Less energy consumption for the same amount of production.

In plain language: energy consumption will become more expensive. Either through the pricing of emissions or through the elimination of financial relief.

Participation in global emissions trading schemes is linked to the size of the plant and is therefore obligatory for the companies that operate such plants. The operating permits now include participation in emissions trading schemes.

The quid pro quo systems such as the granting of the “Spitzenausgleich” are voluntary. No company is forced by law to apply for it. However, the economic compulsion may very well be there, to ensure competitiveness.

A new system has started: National Emissions Trading Scheme, which was introduced in Germany from 2021: The costs rise for the suppliers of fossil energies, who pass them on to their customers: as a result, energy prices rise directly for the consumer.

The consequence of these measures: investments are made in measures to reduce energy consumption. Emissions are reduced. Purely for the economic considerations of the individual.

This also promotes the use of renewable energies. Although for me personally these incentives do not go far enough, much more could happen here.

The companies involved in global emissions trading and those using peak offsetting are now very well organised and knowledgeable in this respect.

National emissions trading affects us all, whether as end consumers or small and medium-sized enterprises.

​What can you do?

Save energy. Switch to renewable energies.

Do the math. Think about more or less strategic decisions. In other words, consider measures that will only pay off over a longer period than one or two years.

Get an overview of your energy consumption:

  • What energy sources do you use
    think not only electricity and gas, but the electricity comes from fossil sources
  • Where do you use the energy
    Affected by national emissions trading are the areas of heat and transport

This means that you already have essential information with which you can assess the effects of national emissions trading on your company and evaluate possible measures.

​Conclusion and outlook

In summary, what we see in energy consumption and climate protection measures is the development of regulatory mechanisms that simply use money, i.e. economic efficiency, to achieve environmental policy goals.

I can well imagine that – at the latest when national emissions trading becomes successful – we will see comparable mechanisms in other areas.