all projects

Ecological footprint
of the pharmaceutical
industry in Germany

Client

Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA)

Year

ongoing


The transition of the economy and society as a whole to a climate-neutral economy and way of living remains one of the key challenges facing us today. A fundamental component for the achievement of climate neutrality is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions produced by industry but also making industrial processes more sustainable. 

On behalf of the Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), Prognos examined the global ecological footprint of the pharmaceutical industry in Germany. For this purpose, Prognos determined the global climate-damaging emissions, water consumption and energy use generated by the pharmaceutical industry and then compared this data with other sectors in Germany as well as relevant pharmaceutical locations abroad. 

It is important to highlight the global nature of the study as previous investigations have limited their consideration to emission load and use of resources at regional level. Emissions or resource intensive processes that are shifted abroad are not usually assigned to inland industry. This means that an industrial sector can be responsible for significant amounts of climate-damaging emissions globally, but still appear sustainable from a national perspective and even fulfil national industry targets. For the first time, the global view used in the current study applies a more transparent approach to the sector. 

How sustainable is the German pharmaceutical industry?

Overall, the pharmaceutical industry in German takes a leading role on the path to ecological sustainability. 

  • Greenhouse gas emissions and energy use in the German pharmaceutical industry are – relative to size – low, compared to other industries. Water consumption, however, is above average high in the pharmaceutical industry compared to other sectors.
  • In comparison with other globally significant pharmaceutical locations Germany is relatively sustainable. However, the pharmaceutical industries in Switzerland, France and the United States have achieved higher efficiency and generate – relative to size – lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Energy and water use is also lower in both neighbouring countries than it is in Germany.
  • Since 2010, the ecological footprint of the pharmaceutical industry in Germany has decreased less than in most comparable sectors – albeit starting from an already low level. In addition, other global pharmaceutical locations such as Switzerland and the United States have been able to further reduce their ecological footprint more strongly. 

Our approach

The ecological footprint of the German pharmaceutical industry was established for three categories: greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, energy use. We used a method established in the scientific literature to determine emissions and consumption along the entire value chain of the German pharmaceutical industry, both nationally and internationally. In essence, data on global value chains from the OECD database TIVA (Trade in Value Added) is linked to information on industry-specific emissions and consumption intensities.

Links and downloads

The study (vfa website in German)

Project team: Jakob Ambros, Leilah Dismond, Dr Andreas Sachs

Last update: 15.01.2024

Do you have questions?

Your contact at Prognos

Dr Andreas Sachs

Project Manager

View profile

Jakob Ambros

Consultant

View profile

Mehr Studien & Projekte zu diesem Thema

More studies & projects on this topic

Future-proof strategies for Europe

2024
| Project

Germany and Europe are trying to find their place in the New World Order. Prognos examined four foreign trade strategies for the vbw.

New procurement markets for the Bavarian economy

2023
| Project

New procurement markets can help increase the resilience and efficiency of the German and Bavarian supply chains. The study quantifies the current procurement markets and those still yet to be further exploited.

Supply chains: no climate neutrality without raw materials

2023
| Project

Crises continue to put global trade routes at risk. This study by Prognos and partners indicates the measures necessary to secure strategically important supply chains.

Effects of deglobalisation on Germany and Europe

2023
| Project

Increasing geopolitical tensions are endangering the world trading system. On behalf of the vbw, Prognos investigated possible consequences for the economy in Germany and the EU.

Where does Germany's economy really stand?

2023
| Company news

Why it’s time for Germany to take an honest look at itself. A guest commentary in the WirtschaftsWoche by Dr Michael Böhmer.

Evaluation of the federal grants to GTAI

2022
| Project

The aim of Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) is to promote German foreign trade. Prognos investigated whether they are using their budget effectively.

The effects of Chinese subsidies on Germany

2022
| Project

Prognos examined the potential impact of Chinese subsidy practices on Germany in three core sectors of the German economy.

EU clusters and value chains with Singapore

2022
| Project

Singapore and the EU seek to intensify their relations through targeted cluster-based cooperation. Prognos analysed the potential for future cooperation.

Success model of the German economy put to the test

2021
| Project

The globalisation dynamic is stagnating worldwide. In a study, Prognos develops new growth strategies for the export-oriented German economy.

About us

Prognos – Providing Orientation.

Prognos is one of the oldest economic research centres in Europe. Founded at the University of Basel, Prognos experts have been conducting research for a wide range of clients from the public and private sectors since 1959 – politically independent, scientifically sound.

Learn more