26 May 2023, 13:38
Sören Amelang

Chancellor and finance minister play down coalition spat over heating transition

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger / Table.Media / Clean Energy Wire

German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and finance minister Christian Lindner, who leads the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), have played down the recent squabbles within their government coalition over plans to phase out fossil fuel heating from next year. Scholz told regional newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger the government’s rapid pace “inevitably sometimes leads to more lively discussions than if we wanted to change little or nothing at all,” but he added: “I make no secret of the fact that, for my taste, these discussions could certainly be conducted in a quieter tone.” Asked what he would do to ensure that the coalition does not break up over the heating dispute, Lindner told Table.Media “that is an unrealistic over-dramatisation.”

Scholz said the coalition still had the ambition to discuss the heating plans in parliament before summer. All those involved have “promised to discuss the open questions with each other very quickly,” he said. “We want to move Germany forward and be re-elected as a coalition to continue the modernisation of our country.” Asked about fears the transition to climate-friendly heating could overburden citizens, Scholz said: “We have the citizens' ability to pay firmly in mind. The goal is a regulation that does not overburden anyone and contains sufficient aid so that the necessary modernisation of our heating supply succeeds.”

Following objections from the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), and contrary to earlier government plans, the economy ministry’s draft law — which stipulates a de-facto ban on the installation of conventional gas and oil boilers from next year — was removed from the parliament’s agenda this week. Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said an adoption of the law before the summer recess in July and August, previously agreed by the coalition, “will no longer be possible with the postponement.”

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