30 May 2023, 13:15
Julian Wettengel

Ruling parties seek compromise in Germany's heating transition dispute

Clean Energy Wire / ARD / Spiegel

Ahead of talks with MPs from Germany’s ruling coalition today (30 May), economy minister Robert Habeck said that a draft heating law which would impose a de-facto ban on the installation of conventional gas and oil boilers needs to be improved. There are several areas which are in “obvious need for improvement and reworking,” said Habeck in a post on Instagram about the draft which his ministry had prepared together with the buildings ministry. Habeck said the starting date - currently envisioned for 1 January, 2024 - for existing buildings could be delayed. He also said that the government would push for more district heating, aiming to organise a summit on the issue soon. Public broadcaster ARD reported that the minister is meeting MPs from the ruling parties, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP), to assess leeway for compromise after the FDP had blocked the law from entering official parliamentary deliberations. News magazine Spiegel reported that FDP officials want to change the draft law rather than stop the entire project. “The law in this form will not find a majority,” said parliamentary group vice head Lukas Köhler. “But there will be a law on climate-neutral heating, that's not in doubt.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) last week played down the squabbles within their government coalition over plans to phase out fossil fuel heating from next year. With the current delay, it is increasingly likely that the law cannot be decided by parliament ahead of the summer break starting mid-July, which Scholz and Habeck have pushed for. A debate after the summer break could mean that the issue becomes even more controversial, as parties will gear up for important state elections in Bavaria and Hesse in October. Habeck now expressed hope that the debate “turns into a constructive, solution-oriented attitude” and added that the law could “become milestone of climate action in Germany.”

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