In future, the federal government will buy in a climate-neutral way

Berlin The federal government wants to set a good example in procurement and focus on the aspect of climate neutrality when awarding public contracts. The federal cabinet plans to adopt the corresponding administrative regulation from the Federal Ministry of Economics, which is available to the Handelsblatt, on Wednesday.

With its procurement, the public sector has a significant influence on suppliers across all industries – from construction companies to stationery dealers. The Organization of Industrialized States (OECD) is assuming an annual public procurement volume in Germany of 500 billion euros, which corresponds to around 15 percent of Germany’s gross domestic product (GDP).

According to the OECD, local authorities and federal states account for 80 percent of the procurement volume. Nevertheless, the federal government is one of the major clients in Germany – and sees itself as a role model, especially with regard to climate protection.

Anyone who wants to do business with the federal government must already meet certain climate protection requirements: Since 2008, the “Administrative Regulation for the Procurement of Energy-Efficient Services” has defined certain energy efficiency requirements for the award of public contracts.

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For example, “basically the highest available efficiency class” in terms of energy consumption labeling is already specified as a condition. The requirements will be tightened and expanded with the new “administrative regulation for the procurement of climate-friendly services”.

Certain insulation materials and disposable tableware end up on the negative list

The administrative regulation follows the Climate Protection Act passed in 2019 and tightened a few weeks ago. Paragraph 13 of the Climate Protection Act states that the federal government is examining “when planning, selecting and implementing investments and when purchasing how they can contribute to achieving the climate protection goals”. According to the Climate Protection Act, the federal government aims to become “climate neutral by 2030”. For the entire country, climate neutrality will not be pursued until 2045.

In order to make the new requirements applicable in practice, the administrative regulation contains a “negative list” of services that may no longer be procured in the future. The list includes building materials that contain certain chlorofluorocarbons. These are, for example, insulation materials.

Disposable cutlery

Disposable plastic cutlery is also on the list.

(Photo: dpa)

Also on the list are certain air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers with halogenated refrigerants, gas patio heaters and electric radiators for heating outside closed rooms, drinks in disposable packaging, disposable dishes and cutlery in canteens and canteens as well as at major events.

Boston Consulting Group would like more commitment

Since the more climate-friendly solutions are often more expensive than conventional offers, the federal government expects additional costs that are estimated at around “200 to 300 million euros per year”.

It is true that the new administrative regulation brings the federal government a step further on its way to climate neutrality. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) believes that more should be done.

BCG refers to figures from the Federal Environment Ministry. According to the ministry, the buildings and business trips of the federal administration alone caused around two to three million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2020 – with the exception of emissions from commuting, equipment, events or canteens. The annual emissions caused by the federal administration therefore correspond to at least around 0.4 percent of the total greenhouse gases emitted in Germany each year.

According to a BCG analysis that is available to the Handelsblatt, this number is “no longer sustainable in terms of climate policy”. The BCG experts are of the opinion that the goal of a climate-neutral federal administration by 2030 is not sufficient. Climate neutrality can only be an intermediate goal. Instead, they recommend making “net zero” the new standard. That would mean that compensatory measures would be excluded.

The BCG analysis states: “A climate-neutral federal administration can only succeed by 2030 if all federal ministries and authorities take part in the rapid implementation of the target set out in the Climate Protection Act with great determination and unity.”

Clearer regulations in the Climate Protection Act

In addition, there is a need for “uniform, binding and sustainable reduction targets and specifications for all organizations falling under the responsibility of the federal government,” write the BCG experts.

They criticize that the relevant paragraph 15 of the Climate Protection Act does not set any binding targets for corporations, institutions and foundations under federal supervision, for federal special assets and for legal persons under private law that belong entirely or in part to the federal government. Rather, “working towards” a climate-neutral organization of “administrative activities” is required.

“At this point, a lot of room for interpretation is allowed – what exactly does the term ‘working towards’ imply?”, Says the BCG analysis. “All indirect authorities, federal companies or companies with federal participation are also part of the main area of ​​responsibility of the federal government. This should be clearly stated in the Climate Protection Act ”, demands BCG.

More: The conversion to a climate-neutral economy will cost Germany six trillion euros