Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) is ready to make far-reaching improvements to the controversial heating law. “I want to make the law better“Habeck told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “It is important to me that the switch to renewable heating works pragmatically, is easy for the citizens to do and is supported socially.”
So hit Habeck a staggering at the start time: “We could start switching for new builds from January 1, 2024. This then affects the new buildings, which will be approved from January. In the case of the existing buildings, I would like to take up the wish for more time.”
More time for retrofitting in existing buildings
Here the challenges are greater, Habeck told the newspapers. “And in view of the concerns about a shortage of craftsmen and supply bottlenecks, a little more time is also a help.” The exact time frame should be agreed in the parliamentary process and in discussions with social groups.
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More openness to technology when replacing the heating system
As a second aspect, Habeck named more openness to technology when replacing the heating system. “You can heat climate-friendly in several ways.The draft law is already open to technology and provides for “eight options”.
“But we should also strengthen that again, as the debate about wood pellets shows,” he told the Funke newspapers. “I see scope here.”
Announcement: Package of measures for local and district heating expansion
The minister announced “soon a package of measures for the expansion of local and district heating”. The heat planning law that has just been presented will also give heat networks a boost, he said. Habeck suggested synchronizing the transition periods better with the construction and expansion of a heating network.
“Pragmatic, unbureaucratic hardship regulation”
Habeck also wants to examine improvements in the transition periods. “And it needs a pragmatic, unbureaucratic hardship regulation that ensures that nobody is asked to do anything that he or she cannot afford‘ he assured.
He takes the criticism and social concerns of many “very seriously,” Habeck said. “My aim is not only to unite the coalition factions behind this law, but also to maintain social support for climate protection.” Therefore, in the coming week, together with his new State Secretary Philipp Nimmermann, he will “have a series of talks with associations, among others, and then feed in my suggestions again”.
Answers for worried citizens
Habeck said he understood well that the debate about the heating law was unsettling many people and that the draft raised questions and concerns. “Many want to make their contribution to climate protection and want to heat in a climate-friendly way, but they are concerned about how it can be done in concrete terms and whether they can afford it. And they deserve answers.”
Habeck emphasized that the clear signal to switch to renewable heating must come quickly. “That’s why it’s important that the law goes through the Bundestag before the summer break.” It now takes a willingness to compromise on all sides, “in order not to drive society further apart in this huge task, but to gather them behind affordable, pragmatic climate protection that is appropriate to the drastic nature of the climate crisis.”
Scholz: The heating law should be in parliament before the summer break
Recently, it had become questionable whether the draft heating law passed by the cabinet would be discussed in the Bundestag before the summer break. The FDP had announced a great need for change. This means that the schedule starting at the beginning of 2024 is in question.
According to current planning, the draft law is also not planned for the next week of the Bundestag session in mid-June. This emerges from the provisional agenda of the Bundestag. However, the parliamentary manager of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, emphasized that the agenda would only be finalized on the Tuesday of the session week. Until then, the parliamentary groups in the Bundestag will continue to be in discussion.
In any case, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured in the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” (Friday) that the law should be introduced to the Bundestag before the summer recess. “Everyone involved has this ambition. And have assured that the open questions will be discussed very quickly.“
Regarding the open conflict between the Greens and the FDP over the law, the chancellor said: “I do not hide the fact that these discussions could also be conducted quietly for my taste.”
The FDP wants changes
FDP leader Christian Lindner referred to critical voices in the ranks of the coalition partners SPD and Greens. “We are not alone in having concerns“, said the Federal Minister of Finance to the media house Table.Media.
Lindner referred to statements by Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and the head of the SPD parliamentary group, Rolf Mützenich. Mützenich had spoken out in favor of staggering the planned funding more socially, but also stated that the behavior of the FDP “annoyed” him.
Linder said Climate protection must be combined with economic reason and physical feasibility. Lindner contradicted the claim that the FDP harmed the country. “If the FDP prevents left-wing politics and economically unreasonable solutions, then that strengthens our country.” According to his own statements, he sees no danger to the continued existence of the coalition with the SPD and the Greens.
Criticism of the draft law also came from local government on Friday. According to the draft law, the municipal utilities would have to prove 50 percent renewable heat in their networks in 2030. “These are capital-intensive, expensive projects that also take time. And there are not such short deadlines,” said the head of the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU), Ingbert Liebing, on Friday on “Deutschlandfunk”.
There is not much time left
The SPD, Greens and FDP had actually agreed in the coalition committee at the end of March that the law should not only be introduced in Parliament before the summer break, but that it should also be passed by the Bundestag by then. The parliamentary summer recess begins on July 7th. Habeck announced on Thursday that he would promptly invite representatives of the three traffic light groups to discuss the planned heating law.
The heating law is a component of the plan to make Germany climate-neutral by 2045. (AFP/dpa)
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