Benchmarks: Fostering understanding for emission trading and energy efficiency

Increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions are crucial to the decarbonization of countries, industries and companies. Comparisons between the energy efficiency or carbon emission levels of different countries or companies allow to monitor and assess the progress of the energy transition on different levels – and require the rational identification of benchmark values.

To foster better mutual understanding on energy benchmark approaches in Europe and China, on June 17, GIZ and China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) jointly organized the Sino-German Expert Workshop on Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emission Benchmarks. At the event, German and Chinese experts shared the experiences on energy efficiency benchmark and carbon emission benchmark development in China, the EU and Germany. The exchange focused on national benchmarks, industry benchmarks and benchmarking in the context of emission trading schemes.

National energy efficiency benchmarks aim at comparing the progress of increasing energy efficiency between countries, identifying best practices and monitoring policy impact. Within the European Union’s ODYSEE-MURE project, countries receive scores for their achieved energy efficiency level, the trends in energy conservation and the energy efficiency legislation and current policies. Germany, for example, ranks ninth among 27 EU member states. National benchmarks hence allow to compare the ambitions and achieved energy efficiency levels between different countries and help countries to improve their energy transition based on others’ experiences.

Industry benchmarks, on the other hand, allow an internal or cross-company comparison of the energy efficiency or carbon emission level. They serve as tool to promote and support energy management in companies and can be used to analyze and derive policies aimed at increasing energy efficiency in different industries, amongst others. Over the last decade, there have been discussions on how to establish cross-company benchmarks in Germany, though so far, the implementation is still in early stages. In the building sector, Germany uses benchmarking to derive energy efficiency standards for new buildings. The target is to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible and to create “real zero carbon buildings”.

Benchmarks are also important for emission trading systems (ETS), a cornerstone of the EU’s and China’s climate policy. Here, benchmarks are used to determine the (free) allocation of emission trading rights to companies participating in the ETS. In the EU, ETS benchmarks are output-based, i.e., expressed as GHG emission intensity (emissions per tonne of product) and represent the top 10% of the best performing installations of that industry.

The workshop closed with a vivid discussion that showed that there is much need for mutual learning on the benchmarking systems in the EU, Germany and China. In the future, the Sino-German Energy Partnership will continue to facilitate exchange on the topic.

The workshop was organized under the framework of the Sino-German Working Group on Energy Efficiency between the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and the National Development and Reform Commission of the PRC (NDRC). GIZ and the China National Institute for Standardization (CNIS) hosted the workshop.

The Sino-German Energy Partnership provides a dialogue platform on both countries’ energy transitions for government bodies, industry and academia. To participate in future activities, and for more information, please contact Ms. Yuxia Yin (yuxia.yin(at)