Activists in Berlin protested on Friday against a climate bill they say has been watered down.
In April, Germany’s governing coalition agreed on a draft bill that proposed that all new heating systems installed in households must run on 65 per cent renewable energy from 2024.
Proposed by the Green party, the ‘Building Energy Law’ seeks to wean the country off oil and gas. Its implementation would be part of a larger plan to make the country climate neutral by 2045.
However, the bill has become a bone of contention in the Bundestag. In its corner of the coalition, the neoliberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), pulled back on their end of the bargain, citing that it will be too expensive to implement.
The draft bill showed that a shift to more renewable energy sources would cost the federal government over €9 billion.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) also insisted that the law ensure that the new heating systems be affordable for low-income families. But this too also drew criticism from the FDP.
The German Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck’s original plan was to distribute subsidies on the basis of income. The FDP though insist that subsidies be shared equally regardless of differing income levels, rich or poor.
Climate activist group ‘Fridays for Future’ thus took to the streets, before the summer parliamentary recess, in a bid to the federal government’s blockade on climate policy.
According to the group, more than 700 demonstrators marched from the FDP federal office to the Federal Chancellery.
Activists argue that the FDP’s stance is unacceptable for a wealthy Western nation.
“There are many homeowners that are able, financially able to do this change on their own but there are many others that are not,” Mathias Walter a board member of Environmental Action Germany told Euronews.
“The federal government has to give them the money to do so, we can’t leave anyone behind but we need this change and we have the financial options in Germany to do so,” Walter added.
Two homeowners who spoke to Euronews said they didn’t believe there was enough financial support to help people transition from traditional heating sources.
Another homeowner who uses a heating pump in her home said she was glad she had one, especially with the rising gas prices.
But she said many are struggling to find workers who can install the more climate-friendly models.
An agreement on the bill took the government months to negotiate. There were even concerns that the coalition could split over the issue.
The FDP declined Euronews’ requests for an interview.