Combining social and energy policy
Klimaallianz, an umbrella organization bringing together a wide range of organizations concerned about the climate, has published its own proposals to prevent energy poverty during the Energiewende.
On Wednesday, former German Environmental Minister Klaus Töpfer (who also served as executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program) announce the publication of Klima-Allianz's new eight-point position paper (PDF in English) on redesigning energy and social policy to spread the cost impact around more equitably.
Michael Spielmann, head of German environmental NGO DUH, join forces with Töpfer in explaining that the political parties in Germany have focused too much on political positioning in the past few months and called on politicians to see the energy transition as a task for all of society – aside from campaigning.
The eight points show how energy policy and social policy need to be viewed in a single context:
- Subsidies and privileges for fossil fuel and industry need to be restricted, and the lower cost of power on the exchange needs to be passed on to consumers.
- Retail rates need to increase in stages to reward households that conserve (a practice common around the world)
- Welfare and similar payments (such as governmental student loans) should take account of rising energy costs, including electricity (which is currently not covered, unlike heating bills), and unemployment benefits should include the provision of efficient appliances.
- Housing allowances should include a flat energy allowance.
- A minimum wage of at least 8.50 euros per hour should be implemented (Germany currently has no minimum wage, though minimum wages do exist in various sectors).
- Energy audits should be provided to households nationwide without charge.
- The EU's Energy Efficiency Directive needs to be ratified soon.
- Energy retrofits need to be ramped up considerably. As Renewables International recently reported, the building sector poses the greatest potential for energy conservation, and the technology "Passive House) already exists. The main problem is structural.
The proposals are an excellent example of how social policy and energy policy need to be combined. Other supporters of the position paper include Green Budget Germany, German tenants association DMB, and church organizations. (Craig Morris)