The federal government said Germany’s national railways would prioritize transporting energy supplies as part of a series of cabinet orders issued Wednesday to help alleviate any energy shortfalls. caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the federal government said on Wednesday.
The orders include the first nationally mandated energy-saving measures in response to a looming energy crisis. Among them are a requirement to reduce the temperature inside public buildings and an overnight ban on illuminated advertisements and buildings.
German Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck said the new measures are expected to reduce gas consumption by at least 2%. “We still have a long way to go,” he said after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting where the orders were issued.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is bracing for an energy crisis this winter. The country relies heavily on Russian gas for industry and heating, and there are concerns that Moscow could turn off the gas faucet as colder days come to punish the European Union over sanctions. for the invasion of Ukraine. Currently, Russia has reduced gas flow to about 20% of capacity in the underwater pipeline to Germany.
The recent crisis was compounded by one of the worst droughts across Europe in hundreds of years. Some German waterways are so low that barges can’t go through with loads of coal to supply power plants.
Many of the coal plants closed as part of Germany’s fossil fuel reduction program had to be restarted this year to reduce Germany’s reliance on Russian gas – and save gas for heating. winter.
With river traffic impeded, the country is increasingly dependent on rail, said Transport Minister Volker Wissing. “This is not an easy decision, because when in doubt it means passenger trains will have to wait,” he said.
Train delays could exacerbate the travel chaos that Germany, like many other countries, has been grappling with in recent months. German railways, like airlines, have been plagued by staff shortages because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The order requiring the railway to prioritize energy transport does not need German parliament’s approval, but it is temporary, lasting only six months.
Many of the energy-saving measures enacted Wednesday are also six-month orders without congressional approval.
Those measures include a requirement that public buildings be heated to no more than 66 degrees Fahrenheit – two degrees below the previously recommended minimum temperature. The decree says it will exempt facilities such as hospitals and schools.
Weeks earlier, German cities and states had begun saving energy by shutting down public fountains and turning off lights that illuminate public facades at night. Extending those measures, the cabinet ordered that all buildings and advertisements be lit at night for aesthetic reasons.
“Every contribution counts,” said Mr. Habeck.