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Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens): "You can heat in a climate-friendly way in several ways"

Photo: Frederic Kern / Future Image / IMAGO

Homeowners could now get more time to switch to a more climate-friendly heating system. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck wants to improve the highly controversial Building Energy Act. He takes the criticism and social concerns of many very seriously, said the Green politician to the newspapers of the Funke media group (Saturday). "I want to make the law better." To this end, he announced joint talks with his new State Secretary Philipp Nimmermann in the coming week. A meeting between Habeck and members of the SPD, Greens and FDP parliamentary groups is planned for Tuesday.

Habeck named four areas for improvement. "When it comes to the start date, I think a staggering would be a possibility: We could start switching to new buildings from January 1, 2024. This will then apply to the new buildings, which will be approved from January." In the case of existing buildings, he wants to take up the desire for more time, where the challenges are greater.

"There are several ways to heat in a climate-friendly way," Habeck said. The bill is already open to technology. "But we should also strengthen this once again, as the debate about wood pellets shows." Soon, a package of measures for the expansion of local and district heating will also be presented. From his point of view, it makes sense to better synchronize transitional periods with the construction and expansion of a heating network. "And what is needed is a pragmatic, unbureaucratic hardship regulation that ensures that no one is required to do anything that he or she cannot do."

Unclear when the Building Energy Act will be passed

It is important that the law goes through the Bundestag before the summer break, Habeck said. "What is needed now is a willingness to compromise on all sides in order not to drive society further apart in this huge task, but to rally it behind affordable, pragmatic climate protection that is appropriate to the drastic nature of the climate crisis." SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil told SPIEGEL: "The law will be passed by the summer recess and will come into force on January 1."

The leaders of the traffic light coalition had agreed at their coalition committee at the end of March that the so-called Building Energy Act should be passed in the Bundestag before the summer break. The last regular sitting day is 7 July, after two weeks of sessions in June and one in July.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, however, only held out the prospect of a speedy revision of the law, so that it will come to the Bundestag by the beginning of July. "Everyone involved has this ambition. And we have assured that the open questions will be discussed very quickly with each other," the SPD politician replied in the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" (Friday) to the question of whether the law would be introduced into parliament before the summer break.

Three-quarters rate traffic light coalition climate as bad in survey

The Greens were annoyed by the fact that the topic is again not planned for the first of the two Bundestag sessions in June, according to the provisional agenda. "The FDP parliamentary group continues to block the parliamentary deliberations on the Building Energy Act," accused the deputy leader of the Green parliamentary group, Julia Verlinden, of the coalition partner. However, the parliamentary secretary of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, emphasized that the agenda would finally be made on Tuesday of the session week. "With good will, we can create the necessary clarity for everyone by the summer," she stressed. FDP parliamentary group deputy Lukas Köhler said: "The nervousness of the Greens does not help anyone. Instead, we should now return to the clerical work in a relaxed manner."

The law stipulates that from next year onwards, at least 65 percent of every newly installed heating system must be powered by green energy. Alternatively, it is also possible to switch to climate-neutrally generated heat from a heating network. The changeover is to be cushioned socially, and there are also to be transitional periods and hardship regulations – but the details are controversial.

According to a survey, a large majority of Germans perceive the mood in the traffic light coalition as bad. Three-quarters of those surveyed expressed themselves accordingly in the new ZDF "Politbarometer". Only 16 percent described the coalition climate as good, as the broadcaster announced on Friday. In the past few days, there had been fierce disputes between the partners over the planned heating law.

Around half (51 percent) of those surveyed also thought that the government was doing its job rather poorly. Only 41 percent, on the other hand, spoke of rather good work. Only 22 percent believe that things would be better with a federal government led by the CDU/CSU. 25 percent are convinced of the opposite. 48 percent see no difference here.