After the coalition decision: Are Habeck’s heating plans really off the table?

After the coalition decision: Are Habeck’s heating plans really off the table?

If a discussion lasts 30 hours, not all brawlers can win. One of the coalition committee’s – supposedly – ​​biggest losers is reportedly Robert Habeck and “his” heating plans. What’s wrong with the claim?

There’s the thing. So, the compromise for which the coalition partners from the SPD, Greens and FDP discussed, debated and certainly haggled for 30 hours with interruptions. A 16-page paper with the somewhat awkward title “Modernization package for climate protection and planning acceleration”. It is obvious that after such a marathon of negotiations there cannot only be winners. However, how much the public agreed on the one big loser is still surprising: These are the Greens, specifically Economics Minister Robert Habeck. In the struggle for progress, “its” planned ban on gas heating has now been overturned. Only: is that even true?

What were the original heating plans in the coalition agreement?

As rough as the traffic lights are today, the start of the government alliance was just as bumpy. Think back to December 7, 2021, when the election winners from the SPD, Greens and FDP signed their 177-page plan for a fairer and more sustainable future after much back and forth. Because one wants to “dare more progress” in the title, the contract also deals with the subject of heating – or “climate protection in the building sector”, as it says from page 90 onwards. From January 1, 2025, all newly installed heating systems should be operated “on the basis of 65 percent renewable energies”. In the medium term, this means a ban on pure oil or gas heating systems. In the medium term because functioning systems that are no more than 30 years old can continue to be used and repaired.

The traffic light had later adjusted the plans. About a month after the start of the Russian war of aggression, which resulted in the German energy supply also facing a “turning point”, the partners agreed to speed up the heating plans and to allow them to apply.

Was it “Habeck’s heating plans?

How you take it. The plans are part of the coalition agreement, the signing of which all have committed traffic light partners to achieve the goals set. They were sharpened again exactly a year ago in the coalition committee. A draft law was then drawn up on this basis. In the Ministry of Economy. And in the Ministry of Construction by Klara Geywitz, SPD. When it was pushed through to the press in March in the half-finished state from the so-called early coordination round – suddenly it was only “Habeck’s heating hammer”, as the Bild newspaper wrote. After that, Habeck’s people had to reassure people that no one intended to take the gas heating that was working away from them. Finance Minister Christian Lindner had long since announced that he would stop Habeck’s ban plans. the plan ended up in the coalition committee for arbitration.

Have the original plans for the heating conversion been overturned as a result?

No. The Building Energy Act is only to be amended. In principle, the coalition still wants to tackle the installation of more climate-friendly heating systems.

In the revised version, however, more attention should be paid to “that an approach that is open to technology is pursued and that sufficient transition periods are available”. A victory on points for the FDP, one might think. According to FDP leader Linder, heating systems should also be able to be used with green and blue hydrogen or biomass. Of course, the original bill never ruled that out. However, these energy sources are scarce and therefore expensive and are therefore probably unsuitable for the time being. They remain with this representation to this day. Hydrogen, for example, is likely to play a similarly important role for heating in the next ten to 20 years as e-fuels do for refueling – i.e. more likely to occur in homeopathic doses.

An important innovation: The “heat transition” should now be socially just, as SPD leader Lars Klingbeil explained. “One can say: Nobody is left in the lurch,” stressed Green counterpart Ricarda Lang. For “certain age and income groups, one will automatically make sure that the specifications are not onerous or binding,” promised Christian Lindner.

Not binding? Both the Greens and the Ministry of Economic Affairs have a different opinion. There should be exceptions for cases of hardship, flexible transition periods in the event of defective gas heating or district heating connections that are already planned, but otherwise renewable heating will become a mandatory standard for new buildings or replacements from 2024.

Here, too, one does not deviate too much from the previous wording. “Exceptions are possible,” it said so far in the Federal Ministry of Economics.

How shall we continue?

More climate-friendly heating: Yes. Affordable heating: Yes. The state secretaries of the ministries involved are to clarify the final details in the coming days, and they say that they are already 90 percent complete. The concrete form of additional funding and social assistance that goes beyond the existing funding of up to 45 percent of the total costs is open. At least the financing issue has been resolved – much to the Finance Minister’s delight. The money should not come from Lindner’s regular budget, but should be taken from the climate and transformation fund, one of those “special funds” that the traffic light invented for such purposes. After that, things can go very quickly: the finished Building Energy Act is to be passed in the cabinet in April, and the Bundestag is to adopt it by the summer break so that it can come into force on January 1, 2024.

Sources: Federal government decision paper; ; ; ; DPA

Source: Stern

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