German boiler ‘culture war’ looms large over EU buildings directive

(EurActiv, 23 Jun 2023) As final talks on the EU’s buildings directive kick off in Brussels, advocates of an ambitious reform are warning against a repeat of Germany’s boiler war that risks hindering ambitious climate action.

Buildings consume 40% of the EU’s final energy, mostly in the form of polluting heating fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which are together responsible for a third of total EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing those emissions to zero has become a central part of EU plans to become a climate neutral continent by 2050. 

To tackle this challenge, the European Commission tabled a reform of the EU’s energy performance of building directive (EPBD), which mandates renovations for the 15% worst-insulated structures in order to reduce their energy consumption.

“Its focus on the worst performing buildings prioritises the most cost-effective renovations and helps fight energy poverty,” said EU climate chief Frans Timmermans when he presented the proposal in December 2021.

The reform is now in the home stretch, with closed-door talks started in June between the the European Parliament and EU member states. While Parliament favours an ambitious approach with mandatory renovations for the worst-insulated homes, EU countries argue that building stock averages would suffice.

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EurActiv, 23 Jun 2023: German boiler ‘culture war’ looms large over EU buildings directive