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14 Jul 2022, 13:15
Kerstine Appunn

Govt plans for buildings & transport too vague, fall short on boiler bans & speed limits – NGOs

Clean Energy Wire

The government action programmes for bringing the high-emitting transport and buildings sectors back on their emission reduction trajectories, has been criticised for being too vague and unambitious by civil society groups, industries and think-tanks.

The German Business Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF) said the programme presented by the buildings and climate ministries on Wednesday 13 July misses “clear guidelines for investments”. “Although the paper invokes the urgent need for more planning security for a massive reduction in energy consumption by increasing the rate and depth of renovation, the actual measures remain vague,” DENEFF wrote, adding that all market participants were still waiting for clear announcements on medium-term funding on national minimum efficiency standards for existing buildings.

Greenpeace said that the installation ban for (pure) gas heatings from 2024 comes too late: "Now that the federal government has declared a gas alert, the installation of further gas heating systems should be stopped immediately and the heat pump programme significantly expanded,” they wrote.

The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) said that the transport ministry seems to “have no plan” as to how greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced, otherwise it wouldn’t have shirked a speed limit as the obvious immediate measure to cut CO2 in the sector and save fuel. Instead, the ministry headed by pro-business FDP was relying on inefficient synthetic fuels.

NGO Germanwatch said that because of the FDP, the government hadn’t managed to present a comprehensive climate action programme for all sectors. “This is in stark contradiction to the commitments made in the coalition agreement to adhere to the 1.5°C limit and to respect the climate decision of the Federal Constitutional Court from last year," commented Political Director Christoph Bals. What is known so far from the transport ministry seems to be an attempt to do exactly what the Constitutional Court has forbidden: to postpone climate protection obligations into the future despite ever greater urgency," said Bals, adding that the FDP ministers were also blocking a more ambitious programme for the buildings sector.

Think-tank Agora Verkehrswende said the proposals from the transport ministry are amounting to a bare minimum of measures, creating incentives for charging infrastructure and cycling but at the same time leaving bad incentives for fossil cars in place. “And there is still no speed limit on German motorways, although it would have an immediate effect, cost hardly anything and, on top of that, reduce serious accidents,” said deputy director Wiebke Zimmer.

NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) demanded a two-year speed limit, a 365-euro climate ticket for public transport, a limit on company car subsidies, a real stop to the closure of rail lines, and a one-year ban on short-haul flights.

The immediate action programmes in the two sectors presented by the ministries yesterday are a mandatory obligation, triggered by section 8 of the Climate Action Law in the case of target being missed. The government announced earlier this year the launch of a comprehensive action programme for all sectors but internal disputes and other urgent tasks (e.g. securing the energy supply for next winter in the ensuing gas shortage due to the Russian war against Ukraine) caused these plans to be delayed.

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