Distinction between GHG and Climate Neutrality 

An analysis of the two scientific concepts and their use and understanding in public communication

About the project

This project is part of the research plan 2021 of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of Germany. It serves to analyze in detail the differences between the scientific concepts of “greenhouse gas neutrality” and “climate neutrality”, often used interchangeably.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • presenting the qualitative and (as far as possible) quantitative differences between the two concepts,
  • estimating the necessary effort required for the assessment of both concepts,
  • describing the general use of the terms and their understanding among the German population,
  • producing a clear and generally understandable presentation of the differences and key concepts using examples.

In general, the project is meant to support the Ministry’s environment agency (Umweltbundesamt) in its obligation to contribute to the education of the public on environmental issues.



Against the background of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping global warming below 1.5°C above pre-industrial situations, many countries, cities and companies communicate contributing targets. These target definitions and accompanying discussions are based on the use of different terminologies. Often terms such as “greenhouse gas neutrality” and “climate neutrality” are used interchangeably, without an understanding of their significant scientific differences.

This project aims to help raising awareness of these shortcomings and providing solutions. The overall goal is to prevent ambiguous and vague statements that would otherwise undermine an effective tracking and further development of the necessary actions.

GreenDelta in the project

GreenDelta, as part of the consortium, contributes with its expertise in software development, databases and consulting for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to quantify the difference between the two concepts.

In particular this expertise is used for the uncertainty analysis and quality assurance of life cycle models and impact calculations. Furthermore, GreenDelta supports the creation of methods for impact assessments in software and supports the practical application in shorter and longer case studies.


The implementation of the project is led by the Öko-Institut e.V., which is supported by B.A.U.M. Consult GmbH, Quotas GmbH, GreenDelta GmbH and the independent expert Dr. Luhmann.

Links and resources

Project duration: Oct 2021 – Dec 2023

Project funded by German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA)

BMU ReFoPlan, Forschungskennzahl 3721 41 505: https://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Download_PDF/Forschung/ressortforschungsplan_gesamt_2021_bf.pdf

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