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21 Feb 2022, 13:46
Sören Amelang

Conservative state premiers call for German 'energy plan' to counter price hikes

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Germany needs an "energy plan" to ensure energy prices remain affordable for households and businesses while protecting the climate, two conservative state premiers write in an op-ed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "The energy transition must not threaten social cohesion in Germany," say CDU politician Hendrik Wüst from the country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Markus Söder from Bavaria, who heads state's conservatives CSU party. "Digitalisation and electric mobility will steadily increase energy demand. For this, we have to ensure security of supply." The politicians say Germany will need a rapid buildup of modern gas power plants in addition to the rollout of renewables. "These can enable the transition to fuels like hydrogen that are climate-neutral in the long term without risking a blackout now. But the government has so far failed to set the course for corresponding investments or a capacity market" as an incentive, they say.

Wüst and Söder argue that stable energy prices will be decisive to prevent an exodus of companies and jobs. "Our industry needs good and reliable framework conditions and political support. We need to avoid an excessive burden, for example via the introduction of a power price for industry." The authors warn that a climate policy that pits the poor against the rich or city residents against country dwellers will fail and call for a doubling of heating support payments for poorer households. But they argue government plans to make landlords pay for a large share of CO2 prices for heating is wrong because this will slow the construction of new flats, harming tenants. Wüst and Söder also accuse the government of focusing on large cities at the expense of rural areas. They call for respecting regional differences in the rollout of renewable power, rejecting sweeping targets for wind power. "There is more wind in the North, and more sun in the South."

The conservative CDU/CSU alliance lost power at the federal level at last year's election to a coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) after governing the country under former chancellor Angela Merkel for 16 years in various coalitions. Under the CDU's new leader, right-winger Friedrich Merz, the party hopes to sharpen its conservative profile and regain its position as the country's strongest political force, an ambition that faces a first test in regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on 15 May, where Wüst hopes to stay in power against a resurgent SPD.

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