Who are the biggest polluters in Berlin and Brandenburg?

BerlinWhat does coffee have to do with the climate in Berlin and Brandenburg? More than you think when you look at who emits the most greenhouse gases in the region. The World Climate Conference in Glasgow is a good occasion for this, which this week will also be about how the emission of climate-hostile gases can be reduced and the effects of global warming limited.

While consumers are being taught to limit their lifestyle, there are industries that emit many times more harmful greenhouse gases, including in the region. If you are looking for the latest data, you can look at the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt), which is subordinate to the Federal Environment Agency. Companies must report there how much greenhouse gas they are producing. This is then stated annually in the VET report (“Verified Emissons Table”).

The companies have to give their numbers because they are allocated certificates in emissions trading and have to pay for them. However, only stationary systems are listed there, no traffic or waste emissions and only those that have an output of at least 20 megawatts, about as much as a French TGV express train.

“The share of the 70 plants and power plants recorded in Brandenburg in total trade emissions in Germany is eleven percent,” said Christoph Kühleis, head of department at the Federal Environment Agency. The 29 plants in Berlin are responsible for 1.5 percent. However, while in Brandenburg, as in the federal government, emissions fell by 11.7 percent in each case, in Berlin they rose by four percent compared to the previous year.

The production of instant coffee consumes a lot of CO2

If you look at the latest VET report for 2020, you will find not only a large number of thermal power stations in Berlin but also “DEK Deutsche Extrakt Kaffee GmbH” with its “DEK combustion system” in Neukölln, which emitted 20,237 tons of CO2 equivalents last year. This unit measures the global warming potential, the relative contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming. For comparison: According to the Environment Agency, every German consumes 11.61 tons of CO2 equivalents every year.

Why is coffee so CO2 intensive? Neither the DEK branch in Berlin nor the corporate headquarters in Hamburg respond to inquiries. The DEK Berlin writes on its website: “At the suggestion of the environmental authority, we have used the most modern technology to reduce odor and dust emissions”. However, since 2013 the emissions from the DEK incineration plant have been fairly constant at around 20,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. According to its own information, DE Berlin has been producing soluble coffee in all forms since 1969: liquid coffee, extracts, agglomerates.

Special paper for wallpaper and coffee filters also appears

The “Neukölln Spezialpapier NK GmbH & Co. KG” with its system for the production of special paper, the only real producing and smallest system in the ranking, consumes significantly less. According to the 2020 VET report, it consumed 336 tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

Neu Kaliß Papier (NKS), with its headquarters in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, manufactures special paper and nonwovens for industrial use, as well as coffee filters and wallpapers. The NCP is part of the Melitta Group, which answers the inquiry about emissions with its sustainability statement 2019. Which brings us back to coffee.

Even in lockdown, Messe Berlin consumes a lot

Also interesting: Messe Berlin GmbH was still responsible for almost 8,000 tons of CO2 equivalents in the lockdown year 2020. “These emissions arise from the generation of heat, cold and electricity for the entire exhibition center”, it is said on request, an energy management system has been in operation for 15 years, which is resource-saving and energy-saving.

Nevertheless, coffee roasters, trade fairs and special paper are more exotic among Berlin’s climate thinners, where heating power plants clearly dominate: If you sort the 29 Berlin emitters listed in the VET report in descending order, Vattenfall plants occupy the first six places with a total of a good 4.3 million tons CO2 equivalents, as many as 12,800 Neukölln specialty paper manufacturers. The Reuter West coal-fired power station in particular weighs heavily with a good 1.6 million tons.

Vattenfall heating plants make up almost 90 percent in Berlin

When asked, the Swedish company announced that it had just increased its climate protection targets. “We want to achieve climate neutrality by 2040.” By 2030, the use of hard coal will be phased out, it will be replaced with a combination of different energy sources and the share of renewable energies will at least quadruple from 7 percent. In 2020, however, Vattenfall plants still emitted 89 percent of all emissions in the VET report in Berlin.

But Berlin is a long way from being as large as Brandenburg. Lausitz Energie Kraftwerke AG (LEAG) with its two lignite power plants Jänschwalde and Schwarze Pump in Spremberg together generate almost 24 million tons of CO2 equivalents, six times as much as the 29 emitters in Berlin put together. “With their output far beyond Berlin and Brandenburg, the two power plants could theoretically supply around seven million households as well as industry and commerce with electricity and heat,” said LEAG-AG. This should be taken into account, the climate footprint should be allocated proportionally to the respective consumers.

Partial shutdown in Lusatia will cost 600 jobs

But at least in Jänschwalde the emissions have almost halved compared to 2018, when there were 22.8 million tons of CO2 equivalents there alone. As politically demanded, two power plant blocks were taken off the grid, the LEAG announced, but that also cost 600 jobs. That is also part of the truth: Jobs are often attached to greenhouse gas emitters, a total of 8,000 at LEAG.

Anyone who loves their heating, instant coffee and wallpaper has an impact on the climate. Of the 11.61 CO2 equivalents per capita in Germany, 20 percent are attributable to electricity and heating, 15 percent to nutrition and 40 percent to consumption decisions for clothing, household and leisure. In this respect, it could make sense for consumers to restrict their lifestyle.

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