Germany’s top court blocks rapid passage of controversial heating law through parliament
Clean Energy Wire
In a setback for Germany’s coalition government, the country’s constitutional court has stalled the rapid parliamentary adoption of the coalition’s controversial heating law. The court ruling sided with a conservative lawmaker who had argued in an injunction that Germany’s parliament needed more time for deliberation of the bill, which aims to phase out fossil fuel heating systems step by step to make the country’s building sector climate friendly. The court ruled that the final deliberation in the Bundestag planned for this week may not take place because the MP's rights might be curtailed (the court did not yet decide whether that is actually the case). Following months of bickering about how to organise this transition, Germany’s three ruling parties – chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) – last week finalised the details of the law, which topped up subsidies for low emission boilers, and said they wanted to get it through parliament shortly before the summer recess this week. The government considered convening a special parliamentary session during the summer break to pass the law, possibly even next week.
But lawmaker Thomas Heilmann, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) argued that rushing the bill through parliament violated his rights as a parliamentarian. “The parliamentary consultations on the heating bill, which have been shortened to the maximum, do not allow to point out and change the conceptual weaknesses of the law,” Heilmann had argued, adding the government “ruins the heating transition with a last-minute legislative package and an unconstitutional procedure.” The Greens and SPD are especially keen to have the law approved as quickly as possible to keep the divisive issue out of the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse in early October.
The controversy over the law has become an endurance test for the coalition as the Greens push for an ambitious transition, while the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) insist on alternatives to heat pumps. The coalition infighting has been widely described as one of the main reasons behind the recent surge in support for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in national polls.