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Christmas lighting in Berlin comes under scrutiny


The looming energy crisis could also have an impact on Berlin Christmas markets.

On Tuesday, Senator for Economics Stephan Schwarz did not rule fewer illuminations this year. In its efforts to save energy, the Senate is first focusing on its own departments, he said, as well as on areas that receive government funding. Here, Christmas markets and Christmas lights are an issue.

"Every kilowatt-hour we save is a contribution".

"It's a proposal that's on the table, but we have to evaluate it and we have to rank it," Schwarz said. "Every kilowatt-hour we save is a contribution. In the end, you have to decide: Do we want to switch off all the lights in the whole city? Do we want to impair retailers' Christmas business? Is it worth the potential jobs lost?"

Considering social and economic policy aspects

This issue, he said, must be decided not only in terms of energy policy, but also in terms of social and economic policy. "This is what we have set out to do," Schwarz said. In two weeks, the Senate intends to present a comprehensive concept for saving energy. The declared goal is to save at least ten percent of the energy consumed by its administrations. "That goal stands," Schwarz said, "and I think it's realistic."

Berlin is the federal state with the lowest gas consumption

According to the senator, the starting conditions in Berlin are different from those in other German states, where in some cases higher savings targets have been formulated. Berlin is the federal state with the lowest gas consumption in relation to the population, he said. Schwarz put the annual consumption at 48,450 terajoules. In relation to the number of inhabitants, this is one third of what is consumed in Saarland, which is the front-runner. One of the reasons for this is that Berlin has less energy-intensive industry and a large number of renovated housing units. Nevertheless, there is also potential for savings in the capital, and the Senate wants to make its contribution.

Lederer: Seriously explore savings potentials

Like Schwarz, Culture Senator Klaus Lederer also opposed a "faster-further-higher" competition between the states on the issue. He stated that it was a matter of seriously exploring potential savings without ignoring the social component.

Cultural sector is not left out

The cultural sector will not be left out when it comes to saving energy, Lederer said. But here, as in all other areas, it is important to proceed with a sense of proportion. Closure scenarios are not foreseeable at the moment. Everything else has to be looked at carefully. For example, it is "relatively absurd", Lederer said, to lower the temperature in museum depots. This could valuable destroy cultural treasures. On the other hand, he believes it is certainly possible to lower the temperature in a theater or concert hall by one degree or to reduce the lighting somewhat.

Nightly illumination of numerous buildings switched off

The Senate is already implementing the first energy-saving measures. For example, Senator for the Environment Bettina Jarasch announced the previous week that numerous public buildings will no longer be illuminated at night in order to save electricity. These 200 buildings and landmarks include the Victory Column, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the Berlin Cathedral and Red City Hall.

Some issues still open

Other questions are still open, such as: To what extent should public buildings such as offices and libraries be heated and kept open during the cold season so that people can warm up there? Another question that has not yet been decided is whether there will be more reliance onremote work (work from home) in the administration again.

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 3 August 2022
Last updated: 3 August 2022

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