Carbon footprint in the FrankfurtRheinMain region

Regional carbon footprint of energy production and consumption

By 2050, Hesse and therefore the FrankfurtRheinMain region as well, are supposed to become climate-neutral. According to the Hessian government, this means that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least 90% compared to 1990. When looking at the current (year 2015) amount of CO2 emissions, the efforts necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to such an extent are challenging . On average, every person living in the area of the Regional Authority (population data of 2015) is responsible for annual CO2 emissions of more than 10 tonsand this includes as sources only energy production and consumption.

Carbon footprint

The carbon footprint shows the impact of energy production and consumption on CO2 emissions (in tons per year). The source is the municipal energy profile for the Regional Authority FrankfurtRheinMain. You can find the profile as well as the data for the individual member municipalities and districts in the Regional Authority under the municipal energy profiles and in the climate-energy atlas.

For the region, a global and a local carbon footprint were created. The difference between them is that the global carbon footprint makes it possible to represent the total (global) emissions generated by the (local) energy production and energy consumption in the region, whereas the local footprint does not. This view makes sense from three perspectives:

  • Emissions in the mobility sector are quite literally mobile. It is just about impossible to locate them precisely.
  • A majority of the electricity needed in the region is imported from outside – the emissions are generated somewhere else.
  • Before one can burn energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas, emissions are created in upstream chains (see below). Renewable energies also have upstream chains which cause emissions.

In order to include these effects, the global carbon footprint was created using a life-cycle assessment (LCA). The life-cycle assessment used here, includes the emissions which are generated by burning the energy sources, as well as the emissions which already occurred in upstream chains – i.e. during extraction, mining, transportation, and processing.

[Import-Strom = imported electricity; Benzin = gasoline; Kerosin = kerosene; Diesel = diesel; Erneuerbare Energien = renewable energies; Abfall = waste; Erdgas = natural gas; Erdöl = oil; Kohle = coal]

Carbon footprint of local direct emissions (without upstream chains and without mobility)

The carbon footprint of the local direct emissions consists of the emissions generated by burning coal, oil, natural gas and waste in the region. The local emissions are about 13% lower than they are in the "global" view, which includes their upstream chains (extraction, mining, transportation, and processing). In the region, burning coal and natural gas is responsible for the majority of emissions.

Since the complete mobility sector and the share of electricity that has to be imported from outside the region is excluded from the carbon footprint of local direct emissions, this footprint only shows part of the total emissions – approximately 48%. A more meaningful picture is thus provided by the "global" carbon footprint based on a life-cycle assessment.

Carbon footprint of global total emissions (based on a life-cycle assessment)

If CO2 emissions are inspected with a global life-cycle assessment one sees that:

  • Coal, oil, natural gas, and waste incineration are responsible for about 55% of the total CO2 emissions;
  • The mobility sector represents a significant source of of the total CO2 emissions – nearly 27%;
  • Imported electricity is responsible for around 18% of the total CO2 emissions.

The global life-cycle assessment also shows that even renewable energies create emissions. However, their overall share is vanishingly small. Renewable energies create CO2 emissions during raw material extraction or production of, for instance, a wind turbine or a solar module.

Global carbon footprint per capita

If the global carbon footprint is divided by the population of the FrankfurtRheinMain region (about 2,319,000 in 2015), annual CO2 emissions per capita are more than 10 tons (10.2 tons). One must keep in mind that this footprint only includes the CO2 emissions that arise from energy production and consumption. It does not include emissions which arise elsewhere, e.g. due to food consumption. The all-embracing carbon footprint per person is thus even higher.