The traffic light coalition argued for a long time. Now the time had come: The Bundestag passed the controversial heating law on Friday after months of conflict. It is intended to make a significant contribution to greater climate protection in buildings. 399 MPs voted for the law, with 275 against and 54 abstentions.

The amendment to the Building Energy Act – the so-called Heating Act – aims to make heating in Germany more climate-friendly by gradually replacing oil and gas heating systems. The law still has to pass the Bundesrat at the end of September.

The new Building Energy Act essentially stipulates that every newly installed heating system in the future should be operated on the basis of 65 percent renewable energy. The law is scheduled to come into force at the beginning of 2024 – but will initially only apply to new development areas. For existing buildings, municipal heat planning should be the linchpin, which should come gradually.

Before the decision, there was a controversial and loud debate in the Bundestag. Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) defended the law against sharp criticism from the opposition. He said: “I think it’s justified to respond to this law with specific and also concerned questions. What we shouldn’t let get away with, however, is pulling the wool over people’s eyes – saying we’re setting goals, but we’re not doing anything about them that these goals will be achieved.”

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The Union-led federal government has decided that Germany should be climate neutral by 2045. However, no concrete measures were suggested, said Habeck. Now it is becoming concrete, millions of people are affected. He takes concerns very seriously. The law creates legal certainty, protects consumers from high energy prices and ensures social balance.

Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge admitted mistakes. She said the coalition fought hard with each other, too often publicly – and created uncertainty among citizens that was unnecessary. In the end, there will be a common solution with a concrete roadmap for how climate-friendly heating can be achieved everywhere.

There had been long conflicts over the law. Under pressure, particularly from the FDP, there were fundamental changes to the original draft. The FDP particularly emphasizes “openness to technology” – according to the motto: “The heating must fit the house and not the other way around.”

CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt made serious allegations against the coalition. The planned future state funding is inadequate. “This law makes people poor.” He also criticized the fact that there was not enough discussion about fundamental changes to the original bill.

FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr replied that the opposition had had weeks to draft amendments. Union parliamentary group leader Jens Spahn (SPD), on the other hand, called the law “madness” and a “stimulus program for populists”. The coalition wants “air sovereignty over the boiler room”. Left parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch spoke of a communicative disaster. AfD MP Marc Bernhard said the “heating hammer” had not been defused.

The Building Energy Act – often referred to as the Heating Act – should actually be passed at the beginning of July and therefore before the start of the summer break. There had previously been long conflicts in the traffic light coalition. The coalition then agreed on fundamental changes.

However, the Federal Constitutional Court stopped the adoption before the summer break. The court had expressed doubts as to whether the rights of the MPs were sufficiently protected. The CDU MP Thomas Heilmann had submitted an application for an interim injunction due to the tight schedule in the legislative process.

Heilmann criticized in the Bundestag on Friday that there had been no new meeting of the responsible Bundestag committee. With a view to a pending lawsuit, he had already said that he did not think the final reading in the Bundestag alone was sufficient. If the government does not take action, it would pass a formally unconstitutional law.

The opposition in the Bundestag failed on Tuesday with a motion to delay a decision on the heating law. She wanted renewed consultation in the responsible Bundestag committee and another expert hearing.

Note: This text has been updated.