German Parliament Passes Law to Phase Out Gas and Oil Heating Amidst Controversy

Berlin, Germany (Natural Energy News): Germany's lower house of parliament has approved a bill aimed at phasing out oil and gas heating systems, marking a significant step in the nation's ambitious goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2045. However, the legislation has faced criticism from both conservatives, who find it too costly, and environmentalists, who consider it not strong enough.

Natural Energy News; German Parliament Passes Law to Phase Out Gas and Oil Heating Amidst Controversy

The bill, designed to reduce greenhouse emissions in Germany's building sector, was responsible for 112 million tonnes of greenhouse gases last year, contributing to 15% of the country's total emissions.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck asserted that the new measures would lead to a reduction of approximately 40 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030. However, his ministry acknowledged that amendments made to the bill, watering down its original draft from April, would likely prevent Germany from reaching its emissions target in the sector by 2030.

Under pressure from the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), the ruling coalition agreed in June to soften the bill, allowing citizens and landlords more time to transition away from traditional heating systems.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner defended the revised version, characterizing it as practical and accommodating of technological innovation. He stated, "We have fundamentally changed it... It is no longer a law that people should be afraid of because the state climbs into their boiler room."

Nevertheless, conservative opposition lawmakers criticized the new law, contending that it would still place a financial burden on individuals and complaining about the bureaucratic requirements associated with obtaining government subsidies.

Environmental groups also expressed their displeasure with the bill, arguing that it could lead to missed constitutionally enshrined climate targets. They pointed out that the alternatives offered in the legislation, such as hydrogen and biomass for renewable energy heat pumps, were deemed too expensive and risky for consumers.

In the parliamentary vote, 399 members voted in favor of the bill, while 275 opposed it, with five abstentions.

According to the new law, heating systems in new developments and old buildings located in areas with a municipal heating plan will be required to operate on 65% renewable energy. Gas heaters may still be installed from next year if they can be converted to hydrogen, even in new buildings not part of new developments.

The requirement for switching to renewable energy boilers will only take effect after municipalities submit their binding heating plans, which are not expected before 2026 in smaller districts and 2028 in larger ones.

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