Evaluation of the German national climate initiative: Lessons learned and steps ahead (7-033-13)

Katja Schumacher, Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), Germany
Christine Wörlen, Arepo Consult, Germany
Kerstin Tews, Environmental Policy Research Centre Freie Universität Berlin , Germany
Maria Rosaria di Nucci, Environmental Policy Research Centre Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Benjamin Görlach, Ecologic Institute, Germany
Hans-Joachim Ziesing, Consultant, Germany
Sarah Rieseberg, Arepo Consult, Germany
Christina Heldwein, Arepo Consult, Germany
Julia Repenning, Öko-Institut, Germany
Max Grünig, Ecologic Institute, Germany

This is a peer-reviewed paper.


energy efficiency assessment, evaluation, National Climate Initiative, Germany


The German National Climate Initiative (NCI) is a cornerstone of the German Government’s ambitious plans to reduce GHG emissions. It aims to change behaviour of consumers, local authorities and businesses towards lower GHG emissions. Around 25 very diverse projects, programs and programme components were evaluated. They included campaigns, broad and targeted information programs, pilot projects, local energy and climate feasibility studies and concepts as well as investment subsidy programs for efficient lighting and cooling, renewables or household-scale cogeneration facilities.

This paper briefly describes the activities under the NCI, presents the evaluation approach and provides some of the findings of the evaluation. Evaluation readiness of the NCI was low at the outset. Structuring and defining the evaluability, the indicators and the NCI itself was necessary. Categorizing interventions into clusters according to programme logic helped understand what type of impact could be attributed to each type of intervention.

We found distinct differences between information-based and investment-based policy instruments, and between the various information-based project approaches. Some approaches reached a large number of people but had limited impact on changing behaviour. Others achieved some behavioural change but had only limited effect on greenhouse gas levels.

Measures were targeting very different energy and emissions savings opportunities – both in terms of GHG savings per behaviour change and in terms of the quality and persistence of the behaviour change. Some of the GHG savings may be realized instantly, while other approaches can induce changes only in the medium or even longer time horizon. Yet others may conceptualize GHG saving alternatives on paper, but any GHG impact is contingent on the implementation of these alternatives. The paper highlights some aspects of what worked, what did not and what can be learned from this for other contexts.

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