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Ecology

Sustainability in 2021 - What changes come with the new year?

With many new laws and legislative changes entering into force at the turn of the year, it is worth taking a look at what 2021 will bring in terms of sustainability. To start with some good news into the year, we have summarised which changes come with the new year in Germany.

Minimum wage

The legal minimum wage will rise to 9.50 euros per hour on 1 January. Thereafter, it is planned to increase every six months - to 9.60 euros, to 9.82 euros and finally to 10.45 euros on 1 July 2022. This measure aims at reducing social inequalities.

Carbon price

From 1 January, an amount of 25 euros will be charged for each tonne of CO2 emitted. According to the Federal Environment Ministry, a litre of petrol, for example, will thus become 7 cents more expensive. This is due to the fact that the companies which put fossil fuels into circulation are allowed to pass on the additional costs they incur to consumers. The CO2 price is to rise gradually to 55 euros per tonne of CO2 in 2025.

The revenues generated by the state in this way are supposed to be used for climate protection or returned to the population in part: In order not to disadvantage commuters with a long way to work, the commuter allowance or Pendlerpauschale will be raised from the 21st kilometre from 2021 onwards from the current 30 to 35 cents.

Basic pension or Grundrente

From 2021, about 1.3 million senior citizens can look forward to a new type of pension. The so-called Grundrente will benefit people who have worked for a long time but only earned much below average. They will receive a supplement to their low pension.

Meat industry

Service contracts or Werkverträge for workers in slaughterhouses have been banned since 1 January. Temporary work is also to be banned in these facilities. In the past year, there have been several particularly severe outbreaks of Corona in such facilities. In this context, the miserable working and living conditions of the mostly Eastern European workers have been uncovered.

Road tax

Anyone who registers a car with high CO2 emissions from 1 January will have to pay higher taxes. The road or car tax for passenger vehicles is calculated on the basis of the engine capacity and the CO2 test value. In future, the tax will be assessed more strongly on the basis of the CO2 emissions value. This is intended to provide an incentive to buy lower-emission vehicles.

Owners of e-cars will still not have to pay road taxes. With the reform of the road tax, the legislator has extended the tax exemption, which would have expired at the end of 2020, for another five years. According to the federal government, this is intended to serve the goal of having seven to ten million electric cars driving on German roads by 2030.

Penalties for upskirting

Since the beginning of the year, secretly filming or photographing under the skirt (upskirting) or in the neckline can be punished with up to two years in prison. The same applies to the further distribution of such recordings. This measure contributes to achieving more gender equality, one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Even though this all sounds very promising, we still have a long way to go. Legislative measures will not be enough to meet Germany's climate targets and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The private sector will have to make its contribution. To see how entrepreneurs and corporates are already doing this successfully, join us at our online event on 26 and 27 March. Get your ticket right here.

Torben Vetter

Image © Akaberka via shutterstock

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