October 2, 2022

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Germany turns off its lights. Temperatures of a maximum of 19 degrees in public institutions | PHOTO GALLERY

The German government has approved a regulation that restricts the heating of public buildings and bans illuminated billboards, in an effort to save energy and combat rising energy costs, The Guardian reports.

The legislation, which will come into effect in about a week and initially remain in force for six months, requires public institutions, from town halls to railway waiting rooms, to be heated to no more than 19 degrees Celsius and radiators in corridors, foyers, access rooms and technical rooms to be turned off, according to News.

The regulations are part of a national energy-saving effort to reduce Europe’s biggest economy’s dependence on Russian gas and allay fears that Moscow could cut off access to the Baltic Sea pipeline in winter.

Legislation was also passed to reprioritize rail transport, giving coal and oil trains priority over passenger trains or other freight trains.

Facades and monuments will no longer be illuminated

Robert Habeck, the economy minister, said the measures were fundamental to Germany’s energy security.

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“We want to free ourselves as quickly as possible from the vice of energy imports from Russia,” he said.

Currently, gas supplies from Russia are 20% of normal levels.

As part of the energy regulations, the facades and monuments of the buildings will no longer be illuminated for purely aesthetic reasons.

The authorities in Berlin and other localities have already implemented many energy saving measures. For example, the Brandenburg Gate in the capital had its lights turned off a few weeks ago.

The regulations will also temporarily cancel clauses in leases guaranteeing a minimum temperature in buildings.

Additional legislation is expected to be passed in the coming days, which will include technical measures such as the mandatory annual inspection of gas-heated buildings to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible.

Freight trains carrying power, considered priority

Transporting power by freight train is considered a priority, due to low river levels, particularly the Rhine, where traffic has been hampered in recent weeks.

Only trains carrying military equipment will be considered priority over those providing electricity. Germany provides Ukraine with regular arms deliveries and plays an important role as a transit ground for other countries to do the same.

A worldwide shortage of freight trains means that older models that have been taken out of service are to be brought back into service. This is expected to lead to higher sound levels, temporarily violating noise protection decrees, officials said.

People traveling by train have been warned that widespread service disruption could follow in the coming months, on top of chaotic conditions already seen on many routes during the spring and summer, with delays, train cancellations and a shortage of drivers and engineers .

Habeck and Chancellor Olaf Scholz have just returned from a three-day visit to Canada to secure agreements on the production and transport of energy with hydrogen and liquid natural gas, seen as essential to efforts to wean Europe off Russian fuel.

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