Germany aiming to make its 6-month EU presidency ‘climate neutral,’ officials say

Thousands in Germany protest inaction on climate change
WATCH: Thousands in Germany protest inaction on climate change

Germany is aiming to make its six-month presidency of the European Union “climate neutral,” by organizing events in such a way as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting any that can’t be avoided, officials said Monday.

The Environment Ministry said the voluntary move builds on earlier efforts by Austria and Finland to reduce the carbon footprints of their presidency.

Countries that hold the rotating position usually engage in a flurry of diplomacy, hosting hundreds of events with participants from across the 27-nation bloc.

Read more: Germany finalizes plan to phase out coal by 2038

Germany said the practice of emission offsetting — paying for projects such as reforestation that capture or prevent the same amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere — will be extended to include catering for events, not just travel.

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The Environment Ministry said it plans to offer only vegetarian meals at its events, though other ministries may choose to serve meat and fish, which have a bigger carbon footprint.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, accounts for about 2 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The government wants to cut the country’s emissions by at least 55 per cent in 10 years compared to 1990 levels, and ensure that the entire federal administration is “climate neutral.”