Enacting stricter building codes in the name of combating climate change may have unintended consequences and benefit far-right political parties, according to German Finance Minister Christian Lindner. In an interview with Politico, Lindner expressed concern that the energy performance directive, a key provision in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s proposed ‘Green Deal’ package, could jeopardize social peace by making it more difficult for people to afford and live in their own homes.
Lindner, who leads the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and is a junior partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition, cited the recent backlash to a heating bill as a lesson about the potential dangers of such regulations. The heating bill, which banned oil and gas systems in favor of cleaner heat pumps, faced criticism from the public and was seen as an infringement on individual freedom. Lindner suggested that these types of policies could contribute to the rise of parties like Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has seen increased support in recent polls.
The EU argues that housing accounts for 35% of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions and needs to be made more energy-efficient to meet climate goals. However, Lindner proposed redirecting the funds towards other climate-friendly projects, such as the EU’s energy infrastructure. He also urged von der Leyen to pause the climate agenda due to economic hardships caused by high energy prices.
The EU, and Germany in particular, has experienced soaring energy prices following an embargo on Russia and the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines supplying natural gas. The responsibility for the pipeline explosions remains unclear, with some blaming the US government and others pointing to Ukraine.
Von der Leyen is scheduled to deliver a “state of the European Union” speech, where she is expected to reaffirm her commitment to the Green Deal. Aides have emphasized that the program will benefit EU industry and will be implemented in a collaborative manner.
The concerns raised by Lindner highlight the challenges faced by policymakers in balancing climate goals with social and economic considerations. While addressing climate change is crucial, it is essential to ensure that the transition to more sustainable practices does not disproportionately burden individuals or jeopardize social stability. Collaborative and inclusive approaches are necessary to find effective solutions that address both environmental and social concerns.