New building rules may cause backlash, Berlin’s finance chief told Politico
Enacting stricter building codes in the name of combating climate change may cause a dangerous backlash benefiting the “far right,” German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said in an interview published Tuesday.
The energy performance directive is a key provision in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s proposed ‘Green Deal’ package of climate legislation. It would mandate the renovation of older buildings in order to “decarbonize” the housing stock by 2050.
Speaking with Politico on Monday evening, Lindner described the plan as “enormously dangerous” and said it could endanger “social peace” because “people might get the impression that the policy makes it harder for them to live in their own homes and be able to pay for it.”
Lindner heads the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a junior partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ‘traffic light’ ruling coalition. Last week, its parliamentary majority in the Bundestag pushed through a controversial heating bill that banned oil and gas systems in favor of “cleaner” heat pumps.
The popular backlash to the heating bill has served as a “lesson” about the EU proposal, Lindner told the outlet, adding that green mandates and the growing body of EU regulations “undoubtedly play a role” in the rise of parties like Alternative for Germany (AfD). Recent polls show the AfD as the second most-popular party in Germany, with up to 22% support.
The Brussels-based bloc says that housing accounts for 35% of the EU’s emissions of greenhouse gasses and needs to be made more energy-efficient in order to meet the 2050 climate goals.
Lindner would like the EU to invest the money into other climate-friendly projects instead, such as the bloc’s energy infrastructure. He urged von der Leyen to “pause” the climate agenda amid the economic hardship caused by high energy prices.
The EU and Germany in particular have faced skyrocketing energy prices after imposing an embargo on Russia. Moreover, the Nord Stream pipelines supplying Germany with Russian natural gas were blown up last September. No one has taken responsibility for the blasts, which journalist Seymour Hersh has blamed on the US government while several US media outlets pointed the finger at Ukraine.
Von der Leyen is scheduled to give a “state of the European Union” speech on Wednesday and intends to reiterate her commitment to the “Green Deal,” according to unnamed aides who spoke with Politico. She plans to emphasize that the program will benefit EU industry and offer “to make sure that the implementation phase is done in the most collaborative way we can imagine.”