22 May 2023, 13:32
Sören Amelang

German chancellor doesn’t expect major changes to plans for gas boiler phaseout

n-tv/RTL / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said he does not expect any fundamental changes to his coalition government’s controversial plans to phase out fossil fuel heating systems. The Social Democrat (SPD) told TV stations n-tv and RTL that the parliament will merely check whether the draft law can be made more precise in some sections. "However, I assume that its basic structure will not be changed," Scholz said, adding that the controversies about the plan within the government coalition of SPD, Greens, and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) are part of a "totally normal parliamentary procedure”. Making the country climate-neutral by mid-century will be a huge effort and require modernisations that will affect everybody, Scholz said. “This is why we need to proceed cautiously and wisely, without losing sight of the target.”

Germany is currently debating plans for addressing its massive heating emissions. According to the current draft law agreed by the government, only heating systems that run on at least 65 percent renewable energy can be newly installed from the start of next year. Existing conventional boilers only have to be exchanged once they can no longer be repaired, according to the proposal, which is set to herald a major shift to heat pumps. Heat pumps can be around twice as expensive to install as a conventional gas boiler, or more, sparking a heated debate about how to distribute the extra costs, which will be cushioned by subsidies worth billions.

Scholz’ Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens want to start parliamentary discussions about the draft law this week in order to adopt the legislation before the summer recess. But the FDP has called for a “more realistic” timetable, suggesting they want to delay an agreement until autumn, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

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