Climate Footprint of Public Procurement 2019

First assessment of the climate footprint of public procurement

There is great variation in what the public sector procures. In particular, the procured goods originate from many places and impact the climate in different ways and to varying degrees. The exact knowledge of the climate impact does not exist today - although various operators have previously attempted to assess it (1). This analysis contributes with the first calculation of the climate footprint of procurement in the public sector in 2019 (2).

A first step – but the method must be refined

The assessment of the climate footprint of public procurement is not straightforward. Among other things, the calculation requires a joint assessment and unification of public procurement and the associated procurement categories across municipal, regional and government entries (3). The analysis is based on a joint assessment of the public procurement on the basis of invoice data. The calculation enables an insight into the total climate footprint of the entire public procurement and the scope of the climate footprint of each procurement area. This is done with a point of departure in the best available calculation model for emissions both in Denmark and abroad – EXIOBASE. In the model, the data on emissions of CO2 equivalents (CO2eq) is, for the majority, based on 2011 data.

An analysis of the climate footprint can be more or less detailed, but in order to be able to measure the effect of specific measures in order to reduce the CO2eq, more detailed and updated assessments are required, where a distinction can be made between green procurement and non-green procurement (4). That is not possible with this calculation.

The calculation method further implies that the larger the total procurement is in a sector, the larger the climate footprint. This must be taken into account for an assessment of where the biggest gains of efforts would occur.

The total climate footprint of public procurement

The climate footprint of public procurement for 2019 has been assessed at DKK 12 million tons of CO2eq. On average, an industry or a sector has a larger climate footprint, the larger the total procurement in the area is. The largest climate footprint comes from 'Construction’, while procurement of different types of goods as well as ‘Energy and Utilities’ constitute the second and third largest climate footprints. Of the total climate footprint, about 1/3 of the emissions occur in Denmark, while 2/3 occur abroad.

The climate footprint relates to procurement – not all public activity

The climate footprint calculations in this analysis relate solely to procurement as a subset of all activities in the public sector (5). Procurement should be interpreted as the procurement of goods and services carried out by public institutions (6). The public sector procured for approx. DKK 184.6 billion in 2019. With DKK 93.6 billion, municipal procurement constitutes the largest share (almost 51 per cent) of public procurement, while government and regional procurement constitutes DKK 45.9 billion and DKK 45.1 billion, respectively.

The data basis for public procurement is predominantly invoice data at the aggregate level, which has been supplied to NIRAS by the Danish Regions, the Municipal & State Procurement Service (Staten og Kommunernes Indkøbsservice , SKI) and the Danish Agency for Public Finance and Management. To ensure the most correct data basis, a number of delimitations have been made in, and additions to the data basis (7).


1) See CONCITO and the Danish Chamber of Commerce.

2) The climate footprint of procurement refers to CO2 equivalents emitted as a consequence of a product or service being manufactured, transported and ultimately consumed, as a result of a procurement made by the public sector in2019.

3) See Appendix 1 for a description of public procurement andprocurement categories.

4) The present calculation is partly based on industry emissions from 2011, which means that the emission factor for some industries may be overestimated.

5) In other calculations an approach is often seen, which uncovers the climate footprint associated with all the operator’s activities – see for example the North Denmark Region.

6) See Appendix 1 for a description of the data basis for calculating the climate footprint of public procurement.

7) See Appendix1.