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Germany: Thousands in Bavaria protest Greens' heating law

June 10, 2023

Planned legislation to make heating systems more climate-friendly has been protested in Southern Germany. Attendees chanted "stop the heating ideology."

Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder giving a speech at the protest in Erding
Markus Söder was heckled by far-right protesters as he took to the stage to rail against a planned heating reformImage: Matthias Balk/dpa/picture alliance

Some 13,000 people took to the streets in the Bavarian town of Erding in southern Germany on Saturday to protest what they called "heating ideology."

However, it was not global warming that they were rallying against, but rather a law put forward by the Green Party — one of the members of the ruling coalition — to replace oil and gas heaters from next year.

Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder — from the center-right Christian Social Union — also took part as the protest's main speaker.

But a representative of the Free Democrats — the pro-business party in coalition with the Greens — was also there, highlighting the main threat to the Green-led legislation securing passage in the Bundestag, possible opposition from within the ruling coalition. 

'Stop the heating ideology'

Söder took to the stage to launch his tirade against the governing coalition, but was met immediately met with boos which were attributed to supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who had shown up.

"Get lost," some in the crowd shouted at him. "Get lost yourselves," the state premier shouted back.

Söder said that Saturday's demonstration had nothing to do with the "anti-democrats" — referring to the AfD. The far-right party was holding a smaller protest nearby after being told not to take part.

Protesters at the demonstration in Erding carrying signs and flags
Attendees carried signs protesting against the co-leader of the Greens, Robert HabeckImage: Matthias Balk/dpa/picture alliance

The CSU leader went on to attack the Greens, saying that those who were protesting would say yes to climate protection, "but no to this heating law."

He also railed against "forced veganization" and "forced gendering" of language, neither of which are part of any existing or planned legislation.

What is the heating law?

A bill put forward by the coalition government, which includes the center-left Social Democrats along with the Greens and FDP, seeks to mandate that as many new heating systems as possible be sourced from 65% renewable energy from 2024.

The switch is to be supported by government subsidies.

The law had already been agreed on in principle after the Greens made a deal with the FDP to back their proposal of extending Germany's highway network. But the FDP has since blocked the bill, causing a major rift in the coalition government.

Heating accounts for over 50% of final energy consumption — that's energy consumed by end users like households and commerce or industry — in Germany as well as 40% of emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

ab/msh (dpa, AFP)