The Reliability of German Climate Data Varies by State and Only Gets Published on an Annual Basis

The Reliability of German Climate Data Varies by State and Only Gets Published on an Annual Basis

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Germany Country Manager Zahi Badra


Best Organizational Source: Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)

In Germany, access to official data on emissions is relatively simple and easy. The federal environmental agency (UBA) publishes yearly reports in both English and German, including emissions divided by categories – by gas, by sector, yearly comparison etc. This publication is regulated by federal law, and the UBA is obliged to publish this data latest on the 15th of March of the following year, while a comprehensive report is usually published within a year. In addition, the UBA issues reports according to different agreements and protocols that Germany is part of – for example according to EU sector specific regulations and the UNFCCC and Kyoto protocol.

The reports track the direct greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFC, ⁠PFC⁠, SF6, NF3) as well as indirect greenhouse gases (SO2, NOx, ⁠NMVOC⁠, CO). Furthermore, the reports offer individual tracking of emissions across eight sectors: Energy industries, manufacturing and construction industries, industrial processes, transport, fugitive emissions from fuels, waste and wastewater, agriculture, and other sectors. Furthermore, the UBA publishes an additional paper discussing the methodology of the calculations.

For each sector, different mathematical models are used. These are developed by research committees, think tanks, and research institutions who get funding from the UBA and the federal government. In complex fields (i.e. transportation) two different methods are used (TERMOD and HBEFA) in order to get more comprehensive results. In addition, vast investments give research institutions the possibility to conduct in-depth research and publish impressive data, for example the PRIMAP project, 1850-2017 emission analysis of the Potsdam Climate Institute.

While the wide scope of data provided by the UBA is considered reliable and accurate, as well as of a sufficient scope, it is criticized for being published only once a year. While estimations done by different research institutes or published in non-binding intermediary reports during the year, there is no reliable data which gives a real-time image of current emissions reduction status. This is however changing, as more and more agencies give access to their real time raw data.

A second gap in the data relates to individual reporting of the different federal states. While the federal government is obliged by law to certain standards of reporting, each state decides for itself to which extent it publishes this data, and the available data from the different states varies greatly. While the rich states in the south like Bavaria and Baden-Wurtenberg, as well as the large city-states like Hamburg and Berlin publish up to date data often, and in some cases invest in making this data as accessible as possible, other states fail to keep this pace. This is especially relevant to conservative and relatively poor states of the former east, like Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, or the smallest federal state Saarland. At least, the federal statistics service does try to collect and coherently present the data from the federal states in a somewhat unified way.

Quality and reliability of the climate emissions data produced by the country:

Rating: **** Excellent

Four Stars (****): Outstanding

Three stars (***): Good

Two stars (**): Fair

One star (*): Poor


Even though there is always room for improvement, the scope of data and its reliability are impressive, as well as the transparency of the UBA regarding its sources and methodology. With constant improvements regarding the availability of real time data, Germany’s effort in that field should be seen as a good example


Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) Email:




Emissions by sector, 2020. Source: UBA

Office of the UBA


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