29 Aug 2023, 13:31
Julian Wettengel

German heating law brawl could have repercussions for planned EU rules

Contexte Énergie

Several European energy experts warn that the German government coalition row over a planned law to phase out fossil fuel-powered boilers could have repercussions for similar ongoing negotiations at EU level, reports energy news service Contexte Énergie. The German Free Democrats (FDP) – who blocked a first draft of the national heating legislation and called for longer transition periods and a bigger role for hydrogen heating – are also criticising the planned EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). FDP energy policy MP Michael Kruse told Contexte that “the draft EPBD directive is neither fair nor climate-friendly.” He argued that countries which had “already spent billions” on making buildings more energy-efficient “should not be forced to spend even more money to achieve slightly higher targets.”

Researcher Andreas Rüdinger, from the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), as well as Jan Rosenow, director of the clean energy think tank Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), said they would not rule out the possibility that the FDP could try to block EU legislation in a similar way it did earlier this year on car emissions rules. Another set of regulations currently being drafted has also come under fire from Germany – the EU’s eco design rules that would ban the sale of stand-alone fossil-fuel-powered boilers from 2029. The German government is asking for exemptions identical to those provided for in its draft national heating law, writes Contexte. Germany calls on the Commission to “find a way to keep hydrogen-compatible heaters and [others] based on biomethane, open blue hydrogen and biomass on the market,” says a document seen by the news service.

A public row between the coalition parties over the proposed legislation to phase out fossil fuel-powered boilers sparked a fierce national debate about the decarbonisation of the heating sector in the first half of this year, fuelled by attacks on the plans from the country’s largest tabloid Bild and other conservative and right-wing media outlets. Critics argued that the investment costs for climate-friendly solutions like heat pumps would overburden homeowners and tenants. Germany’s top court blocked the rapid passage of the legislation ahead of the summer recess, and parliament is set to decide the law next week.

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