It’s been a long debate, and now the Bundestag is set to approve the heating law. Criticism of the planned regulation, which aims to make the building sector more climate friendly, has come from the union again.
After a long struggle, the controversial so-called heating law is now up for a vote in the Bundestag. The decision is expected to be taken by a majority of the Traffic Light Coalition. Discussion is scheduled about an hour and a half in advance. After that, the Building Energy Act (GEG) will be voted on by name.
The law aims to provide for the phase-out of gas and oil in the construction sector. It is planned that from January 2024, every newly installed heating system will be operated using at least 65 percent renewable energy. The regulation will initially apply directly only to new buildings. Existing heaters must continue to work and be repairable as well. The federal government confirmed that there is no immediate obligation to replace existing heating systems. Under certain conditions, the state covers up to 70 percent of the costs of a new heating system.
Security planning guarantee
The focal point of existing heating systems should be mandatory and comprehensive municipal heat planning. Only when available, the requirements of the Heating Act with at least 65 percent renewable energies must also apply to existing buildings. Homeowners can then decide what to do. If there are no heat plans yet, cities of more than 100,000 residents should have until mid-2026 to prepare their heat plans, according to the draft heat planning bill. All other municipalities that do not yet have plans must submit them by June 30, 2028.
A municipal heating plan, for example, should indicate whether there is or will be a climate-friendly heating source to which the building can be connected. According to the federal government, this should provide “planning and investment security”.
months of contention
There has been a heated debate in the federal government over the heating law. Under pressure from the Free Democratic Party in particular, fundamental changes took place. The Ministry of Economy recently introduced a new carbon dioxide savings calculation. Accordingly, the effect of the law on climate protection will be less than assumed. The reason for this is changes in parliamentary procedures. It is assumed that with the new version it is possible to achieve about three-quarters of the already planned greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 – “maybe a little more, maybe less”. This new estimate is based on calculations conducted by the Oku Institute.
Before the summer recess, the opposition tried to delay the decision on the law through a proposal. In fact, the Federal Constitutional Court blocked the adoption in an urgent procedure. She had doubts that the rights of Bundestag members were adequately protected. CDU MP Thomas Heilmann has applied for a temporary injunction due to the tight timeline of the legislative process. The coalition then decided that the law should be passed in the Bundestag after the summer recess in early September.
Criticism of the project again came from the Union faction. “The reality is that the GEG with its excessive regulations makes building and living more expensive,” said parliamentary group deputy chair Ulrich Lange of the Augsburger Allgemeine. You cannot use it during times of high inflation and high interest rates. The law is like a “fire accelerator.”
After the decision of the Bundestag, the law passes to the Bundesrat. At the end of September, the law could be approved by the Council of State.
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