Habeck launches energy-saving campaign backed by leading associations – EURACTIV.com

The German Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK) is launching an awareness campaign to promote citizen energy savings. The campaign is supported by influential associations, but stays away from regulatory measures.

Getting people to use less energy is difficult. The German government has a rich history of largely unsuccessful attempts to inspire energy savings in its people. The last campaign considered a failure was in 2016, which was loaded with innuendos “Germany does it efficiently”.

Today, faced with an imminent shutdown of Russian fossil gas and an unprecedented energy crisis, Germany is trying again.

Citing Russia’s war of aggression and Germany’s dependence on the Kremlin, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said: “Only with more renewable energy and more energy efficiency that we will strengthen our independence”.

And, record energy prices necessitated energy savings anyway, according to the message. “I know a lot of people are already looking where they can save money,” he added on June 10.

The campaign will be called “80 Million Together for Energy Change” and seeks to build on Habeck’s April push for the Germans to save energy to reduce the country’s dependence on Russia.

As next winter approaches, European policymakers are wary of the worst-case scenario. “No matter how hard we work to deploy renewables and find alternative suppliers,” reducing dependence on Russia would require energy efficiency, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told the summit of the IEA on energy efficiency on June 8.

Therefore, the messaging is now triple. “Every kilowatt hour of energy saved contributes to our independence, reduces cost pressure and helps us achieve our climate goals,” an official statement read.

The campaign will advertise “wherever many people congregate”, whether at main train stations or online, offer advice and provide free helplines.

Until now, the German government has been reluctant to engage in regulatory interventions, as it was forced to do during the oil shocks of the 1970s.

Instead, Habeck enlisted a select group from the country’s highly influential associations.

Wide support from the association

“We will promote energy saving, provide information and present ‘good examples’ and thus continue to provide important impulses in the future,” said the association of cities, the association of counties and the association of municipalities.

Employers and trade unions have also pledged to support the energy saving campaign. “As social partners, we advocate new investments in energy efficiency. It is now a question of exploiting the remaining potential with more dynamism,” said the DGB trade union and the BDA employers’ association.

Beyond this, the industry associations BDI and DIHK, the trade association ZDH, the energy industry associations BDEW, DENEFF and the utility group VKU, as well as the environmental NGO DNR and the consumer protection group vzbv have put their weight behind the campaign in a veritable who-is-who of German associations.

lead from the front

Observers remain skeptical of voluntary energy-saving campaigns, one referring to the initiative as “madness” because it again uses mechanisms that have not worked in the past.

This time, Habeck hopes to lead from the front. This summer, his ministry is cutting cooling energy expenditure by 40%, targeting an ambient temperature of 26°C instead of 22°C when needed and shutting down cooling altogether where it is not.

The ministry’s energy expenditure for heating will be reduced by 15% and the exterior of the ministry will no longer be lit at night for a pleasant visual effect.

Whether that’s enough to rally the public against gasoline and diesel fuel subsidies is another matter altogether.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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