Habeck: planned savings targets should not apply to private households

Germany’s planned savings targets should not be applicable to private households, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck has confirmed.

Habeck has announced regulations that stipulate, for example, that public properties are only heated to 19 degrees. He excluded hospitals and social institutions. Buildings and monuments should no longer be illuminated, advertising systems should not be illuminated.

“More savings are also needed in the world of work, we are currently talking about this with the Ministry of Labor and the social partners,” said Habeck. The Energy Security Act passed in July makes such ordinances possible , even before the crisis occurs. At the time, the federal government had indicated further steps to save energy, for rail-bound transport and simplifications in environmental law.

There are guidelines for private households, explained Habeck, for example the obligatory hydraulic adjustment, the heating check. The minister appealed to people’s voluntary willingness: “We – as a country, as a society – will only be able to do this if people are willing to make a contribution.” Habeck conceded that the burdens in this crisis were very unequally distributed, which primarily affected consumers with low incomes, “while a wealthy part can put up with the high price increases without any noticeable losses”.

For and against excess profit tax

The problem can be solved, said Habeck, since Germany is a strong economy. “Anyone who has so little money that they live on social transfers or receive housing benefit should be fully relieved of the additional costs for energy on average, with lower and middle incomes proportionately.” For example, the additional revenue from VAT on electricity and gas could be used to relieve people. The government will discuss this. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has already announced another relief package.

Some corporations, which made high excess profits from the war alone, could also make a greater contribution, said Habeck. It is money that the corporations or operators of energy systems themselves did not expect. Habeck does not see the project initiated by Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) to tackle the “cold progression” of taxation as a priority – on the other hand, Lindner, unlike the Economics Minister, rejects an “excess profit tax”.

Regarding the gas levy planned for October 1st , which is intended to relieve gas importers of the burden of the additional costs of procuring replacement Russian gas, Habeck said: “Under the political framework conditions under which this coalition is working – no tax increases, next year a balanced budget -, the allocation is the logical consequence.” The first thing to be rescued was Uniper , one of the largest gas importers. Some importers were constantly making losses. “But it must not happen that they collapse – because the gas supply is dependent on them.”

“No everyday business”

“None of this is everyday business. And you only see certain things when you implement them,” said Habeck in response to criticism of the gas levy. The government is examining criticisms of the gas levy, such as the fact that the levy does not cover district heating and fixed contracts.

“Not polls, but the long lines must guide action for politics,” Habeck commented on polls, according to which a majority of Germans are in favor of nuclear power plants running longer. “At the beginning of the Ukraine war there was also a majority for an immediate gas boycott. I didn’t go along with that.”

Habeck said he saw ailing nuclear power plants in France and “insane costs” for new buildings. “The energy system that we have committed to is the more demanding one, but it will also be more efficient, cheaper and more climate-friendly. “In the stress test, we have to deal with the winter of 2022/2023, and we will do that objectively. But anyone who is talking about a renaissance in nuclear power this year is misunderstanding reality.” According to Habeck, the results of the test, in which the security of supply of the electricity grid is checked, should be available in the next few weeks.

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