18 Sep 2023, 13:37
Edgar Meza

German construction minister rejects EU plans to increase energy efficiency in old buildings

Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung / Politico

Germany’s construction minister, Klara Geywitz, has pushed back against EU plans to mandate energy-efficiency renovations for the bloc's worst performing buildings, she told newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. The country doesn’t have to agree to every single climate protection demand from Brussels, Geywitz stressed in an interview with the newspaper. “I am very critical of the tightening of the building efficiency directive that the EU Parliament is demanding,” the minister said. “In fact, there would then be an obligation to renovate all buildings that do not meet certain energy standards. I reject that.” Many homeowners lack the money and strength to meet such requirements because such renovations are “a huge act that we are not allowed to enforce by law,” she added. “I say no to minimum standard obligations for every house, without looking at who lives in it, who owns it and how long it could still be used.”

Geywitz also pointed out that investing in building insulation does not automatically increase the value of homes. “The money would possibly be lost because the house simply cannot be sold at a high profit.” Some post-war houses are small, built with outdated materials and may eventually be demolished, she noted. Germany’s own plans for reducing CO2 emissions through buildings renovation, which cover schools, sports facilities and administrative buildings, are completely sufficient, she added. Geywitz’s comments echoed those of finance minister Christian Lindner, who last week blasted EU leaders for their plans in an interview with Politico. Forcing stricter clean energy rules onto homeowners could trigger a voter backlash and fuel the rise of far-right parties, he warned.

Germany’s building sector has repeatedly failed to meet its emission reduction targets. The government recently approved a controversial law to phase out the use of fossil fuel heating systems, aimed at reducing emissions in the sector. However, the current quota to retrofit one percent of existing buildings in Germany is much too low to meet the emission reduction targets in future, as these cannot be achieved simply by replacing fossil heating systems with renewables-based alternatives, according to an analysis conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

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