Climate Protection

Berlin’s climate protection and energy policy

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Berlin is going climate-neutral by 2050

Cities, home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, are both drivers of climate change and at the same time most vulnerable to its effects. Berlin is very aware of this responsibility and has already taken action to tackle climate change in the past. Thus, Berlin is proud to be one of the most climate-friendly cities in Germany. Compared to the year 1990, CO2 emissions have already been cut by about one third (from 30 million tonnes in 1990 to 20.8 million tonnes in 2013). However, as was confirmed by the adoption of the first international climate protection agreement of its kind, the Paris Agreement, further actions on all government levels are necessary to meet the internationally recognised 2-degree target. As cities are known to be responsible for about 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, it is also their responsibility to take action.

For this reason, the pace of climate protection has been increased significantly. It is now intended that Berlin should become a climate-neutral city by 2050. This means that Berlin has to reduce its CO2 emissions over the next 35 years from now 20.8 million tonnes to around 4.4 million tonnes a year: in other words, by 85% compared to the base year of 1990. The milestones are a 40% CO2 reduction by 2020 and a 60% CO2 reduction by 2030. This must be achieved against the background of an extraordinary population growth and a need to keep up economic growth.

Planned development of CO2 emissions in Berlin

All of the city’s spheres of life must be included in this transformation, including energy, buildings and urban development, private households and their consumption, mobility and business. The results of a feasibility study commissioned by the Berlin Senate in 2014 have shown that these goals are achievable if further action is taken. According to the study, great potential lies in restructuring the energy supply and the building sector. And there is more good news: significant stimuli for economic growth and employment can be expected as a result of investments in climate protection.

Making it legally binding – the Berlin Energy Turnaround Act

In order to make climate protection a long-term task, the city decided to make its climate targets legally binding. The Act to Implement the Energy Turnaround and to Promote Climate Protection in Berlin – the Berlin Energy Turnaround Act, for short – was conceived. It entered into force on 6 April 2016 and sets the framework for Berlin’s climate protection and energy policy from now on. The legislation addresses mainly the public sector and requires the public administration to take a strong role model function. It stipulates a greener energy supply, more school education on climate protection and clean energy and greater efforts in adapting to the effects of climate change. Finally, the law calls upon the Berlin Senate to elaborate an overall concept involving the general public in order to achieve these binding climate protection targets: the Berlin energy and climate protection programme.
The Berlin Energy and Climate Protection Programme (BEK)

Grafik: © polidia GmbH

The central instrument of Berlin’s energy and climate protection policy is the Berlin energy and climate protection programme (BEK). It is the "roadmap" towards climate neutrality, in which strategies and measures are defined. It is based on scientific recommendations made in a comprehensive research project, the results of which were presented in 2015. Based on these findings, the BEK was adopted on 7 June 2016. It is now subject to a revision due to the constitution of a new Berlin Senate following the elections in autumn 2016.

The BEK describes strategies and measures for all relevant fields of action in the city, which can and must contribute to climate protection but also to the adaptation to climate change: energy supply, buildings and urban development, industry, traffic and private households. In view of the wide spectrum of fields of action and the diverse range of those affected, the BEK was developed in a comprehensive participation process involving all the relevant specialist disciplines and practitioners as well as numerous participants from Berlin’s urban community.
Carbon neutrality needs a role model

Berlin's administration wishes to set a good example in order to motivate other city stakeholders and enhance its credibility. Climate protection mainly comes down to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by cutting energy use and the replacement of fossil energies by renewables. That is why the Berlin Energy Turnaround Act requires the central and district administrations to organise their work in a carbon-neutral manner by the year 2030. The legislation also requires the establishment of refurbishment roadmaps for public buildings, in which the building stock of the central and district administrations will be systematically documented and the necessary energy-related refurbishment measures put into an expedient order. By implementing these refurbishment roadmaps, the public building stock will be comprehensively refurbished for energy efficiency by 2050. In 2014, a public energy utility (Berliner Stadtwerke) was founded which plans, builds and operates decentral renewable energy systems and sells electricity and heat in Berlin. It implements measures that support the goal of supplying Berlin with 100% renewable energy in the future.

Tried-and-true projects

Well-established and effective projects are also being continued under the BEK. These include the climate protection agreements with large Berlin public utility companies and the residential real estate industry as well as the successful model of energy-saving partnerships. The ImpulsE programme will be further developed and remains the central information and education platform. The Berlin Climate Protection Information Office (Berliner Informationsstelle Klimaschutz) provides an overview of the wide range of climate protection activities in Berlin and also supports international visitors.

The Berlin Energy Days, which have turned into the largest leading event for energy efficiency in Germany, are an annual highlight. A large number of people from urban society participate in the annual “Berlin Saves Energy Action Week” and the “Berlin Energy Savings Champion” competition. Projects in schools and kindergartens also serve to anchor the issue of climate protection. Until 2020, the Berlin Programme for Sustainable Development (BENE), co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will be providing resources for innovative measures and projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Today, climate change is already reality. Berlin, too, will have to adjust to the increasingly altered climatic conditions, such as the general increase in temperatures and higher frequency of extreme weather events such as heat, heavy precipitation and storms. Berlin is developing strategies to adapt to the effects of climate change. The Urban Development Plan for the area of climate has been addressing the topic of adjustment for some years now. A concept for adapting to the effects of climate change (AFOK), which was launched in 2016, will facilitate integration of the adaptation measures into all spheres of life and function in the city. The establishment of the climate change monitor in 2015 and the ongoing observation of selected indicators allow climate changes and their specific effects, as well as the effects of implemented measures at the local level to be understood and adjustment processes controlled accordingly.
International cooperation

Since the only effective way to combat climate change is joint action, Berlin is getting involved as a metropolis with European and international ties. The Climate Alliance and the Covenant of Mayors, conceived by the European Commission, are especially pertinent to Europe. With their signatures, European cities commit themselves to specific climate protection objectives. Internationally, Berlin is a member of the large C40 (Cities Climate Leadership Group) network as well as of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA). Berlin was also represented at the historic climate negotiations in Paris in late 2015, at which a global climate agreement was adopted. Berlin is part of the worldwide city network Metropolis and has, together with other cities, developed the “No Regrets Charter”, which declares principles for adapting to the effects of climate change in cities.
The Climate Protection Agreements of the Federal State of Berlin

Sustainable climate protection is impossible without innovation, new technologies and high-tech solutions. Therefore, economic activity and decisions about investments must be based on ecology and environmental compatibility. This challenge means an opportunity for Berlin to initiate a broad economic development.

Accordingly, an important element of climate protection policy in Berlin is to win over Berlin's companies and associations to become active climate protection partners. The signing of Climate Protection Agreements between the Federal State of Berlin and individual partners such as large public utility companies and the housing industry backs the climate protection partnerships with binding mutual obligations.

Focus areas

Under the Climate Protection Agreements, the companies undertake to contribute to achieving the goals of the State Energy Programme by taking concrete steps. Defined targets regarding the reduction of CO2 and air pollutant emissions, the planned volume of investments and a specific catalogue of measures are laid down in the agreements. This makes it possible to implement specific climate protection measures within the partners' areas of economic activity and tap a growing share of the economic potential of the climate protection investments. Moreover, investments that go beyond this are often triggered. In addition, the pioneering role of the climate protection partners motivates other enterprises, but also individual citizens, to take action.


Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection
Special Unit Climate Protection and Energy
Brückenstr. 6
10179 Berlin

Gesa Homann


Climate protection in Berlin
Berlin: more climate-friendly

Climate-Neutral Berlin 2050
Recommendations for a Berlin Energy and Climate Protection Programme

Climate-Neutral Berlin 2050 - Results of a Feasibility Study
Working Together for Climate Change Mitigation in Berlin

Paris 2015 / © C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
Meeting of mayors worldwide at the international climate negotiations in Paris 2015
© C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group