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FAQ: CO2 compensation

Carbon compensation expenses in connection with business trips undertaken by DFG funding recipients for DFG projects

Where can I find the compensation regulation for business trips undertaken by DFG funding recipients?

It can be found under the heading “Travel” in the relevant funding guidelines referred to in your letter of approval. Based on this regulation, compensation payments can be recognised for the purpose of DFG research funding.

How are compensation payments allocated to a specific DFG funding type?

Travel expenses are allocated to a specific instance of research funding. This research funding is assigned to a funding code, the DFG reference number (GZ) or a cost item number (AOBJ).

How do I plan my business trip to facilitate processing by my institution?

Check with your institution to see if they have already set up a central unit for acquiring certificates. If so, please ask at this unit how compensations are handled at your institution. Mention that the compensation payment for your business trip must be made in accordance with the specifications set out in the Funding Guidelines and must be allocated to the correct proof of use of DFG funding in accordance with the outflow principle.

The outflow principle – to what extent is this relevant to the compensation of my business trip?

Please note that in the context of budget-related project funding, compensation can only be made from the funds for a given calendar year if the compensation payments are actually made in that calendar year. If the compensation payments are not made until the following year, they must be shown in the proof of use submitted for the year in which the funds are actually used. There may therefore be a difference between the outflow of travel expenses (without compensation payment) and the compensation payment.

How do institutions have to document CO2 compensation and the relevant certificate purchases for DFG research funding?

All DFG research funds spent must be reported to the DFG in a so-called proof of use. The following must be reported separately as part of the proof of use:

  • the total expenditure for acquired certificates for CO2 compensation in euros and
  • the total CO2e compensation of these acquired certificates in tonnes (tonnage).

Is the compensation regulation contained in the Funding Guidelines relevant if I undertake a journey on the long-distance Deutsche Bahn rail network?

No. Since Deutsche Bahn uses 100% green power on its long-distance network, there are no CO2e emissions to compensate for and you can submit your travel expenses in the usual way. There is no further notification requirement.

How do I deal with this if a CO2 compensation is already indicated on my ticket?

You can submit the ticket in the normal way under DFG research funding and include it in the proof of use.

What do I have to consider in the event of a possible on-site audit?

On-site records of the calculation and certificate acquisition are to be kept for audit purposes.

I have calculated the CO2 emissions for my business trip. Who is responsible for procuring the certificate?

The acquisition of the certificate is your responsibility as the funding recipient.

What is the procedure when it comes to using carbon offset certificates or offset services?

Please ensure that carbon offsetting is transparently documented for the business trips concerned. If you receive your funding using the special accounts procedure, please provide appropriate supporting documents.

Does the DFG purchase the certificates to offset carbon dioxide equivalents?

The certificates are not purchased. Offsetting in accordance with the CDM standard or a comparable standard is carried out by the funding recipient.

How do I calculate the carbon dioxide equivalents to be offset resulting from business trips?

You can use a calculator supported by the Federal Environment Agency along with the options this provides. For example:

Additional report on the DFG’s electronic form

Why does the DFG need the additional notification of compensation costs (cost of the procurement of certificates)?

The DFG’s funding agencies require the DFG to report on the funds used to procure certificates. For this purpose, the DFG requires separate information from you regarding the proof of use for CO2 compensation. You will be informed of the exact query mechanism.

Who is to enter the data in the electronic questionnaire?

One of the pieces of information the electronic form requires you to enter is the annual outflow of funds for the purchase of carbon certificates. Please coordinate with the office of the institution that handles your DFG funding.

How can I document the entries in the electronic form?

At the end of the data entry in the electronic questionnaire you can print or generate a pdf. You will find instructions on how to do this at the above link. Short link on the DFG homepage.

Which web browsers work with Forms?

If you experience difficulties with the browser, please check whether you are working with a current version. Currently compatible internet browsers are regularly published on the Microsoft support page.


Who can help me at the DFG if I have questions about how exactly to handle the accounting of certificate costs and the reporting obligation?

Please feel free to contact the DFG office responsible for the financial implementation of your funding.