Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) proposes pumping more natural gas and oil from the German North Sea in order to quickly reduce dependence on Russian energy imports – and the Greens agree. In return, however, they are demanding the approval of measures that can reduce consumption, in particular a general speed limit on German motorways. He reports that daily mirror.
Policy change is imminent – against the coalition agreement
This marks the beginning of a fundamental change in policy in the traffic light coalition: Because the coalition agreement has so far actually envisaged a ban on oil and gas drilling in the North and Baltic Seas, and a general speed limit – i.e. on motorways – is expressly not supposed to be give. This wish of the Greens failed during the coalition negotiations due to resistance from the FDP. In an interview with the Tagesspiegel, FDP leader Lindner had demanded that the coalition agreement be questioned. The sharp rise in world market prices would now make the mining of oil and gas in the North Sea seem economical, and Germany needs these raw materials for a transitional period.
In view of the changed geopolitical background, Lindner considers it advisable to examine the country’s entire energy strategy without prohibiting thought. He is appealing to the Greens to accept the expansion of domestic oil and gas production and to support new drilling permits. At the same time, he emphasized that there would be no self-sufficiency in this area for Germany, that energy would always have to be imported, such as liquid gas or synthetic fuels. These projects must now be implemented “at the speed of light”, said Lindner.
“Above all, a speed limit” for consumption reduction
The Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Oliver Krischer (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), then said that they were examining whether and under what conditions an increase in oil and gas production in Germany is possible in the short term. However, in return, measures for fast-acting consumption reductions would also have to be examined – “above all a speed limit,” demanded Krischer, which should be understood as a request to Lindner to give up resistance to a general speed limit of 130 km/h on motorways.
Funding areas in the North and Baltic Seas are mostly in the federal states of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. According to the Federal Association for Natural Gas, Oil and Geoenergy (BVEG), the production volumes were 1.9 million tons of oil per year and five billion cubic meters of gas. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources specifies the safe (economically usable) oil reserves in Germany at 17.9 million tons and 22.3 billion cubic meters of gas. In addition, there are larger quantities that cannot currently be exploited economically.
High prices a “natural impulse” to save fuel
Regarding the fuel prices at petrol stations, which are currently at record highs, Lindner said: Whatever the form of a ‘fuel price brake’ (demanded by the CDU opposition), it must be financed either through budget cuts or new debts. He reminded that rising fuel prices mean no additional wealth for the treasury. “If a higher proportion of a household’s disposable income is spent on fuel, there will be a shift in VAT, but not an increase in revenue. People then hold back on consumption elsewhere,” Lindner said daily mirror.
Lindner also rejects a general as well as a temporary speed limit on German roads as a measure to reduce fuel consumption. In view of the high prices, citizens have a “natural impulse to consume less” and can take their foot off the gas. Lindner also rejects a reduction in VAT.
Lindner also advocated not generally boycotting oil and gas imports from Russia. Germany should not question its energy supply unnecessarily. Russia has already been put under pressure by sanctions. Now it is a question of Germany possibly maintaining its strategic sustainability for a very long time.