The heaters, known as Heizpilze in German, became hugely popular in trendy bars and restaurants, particularly after the smoking ban took effect.
Yet the district of Pankow, which includes the Prenzlauer Berg area, has altered licensing rules in order to ban the heaters – because they contribute so much to global warming by releasing vast quantities carbon dioxide.
This example is now being followed by three other districts, including Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf where some of the city's most vibrant nightlife is to be found.
The heaters work by burning bottles of propane gas, releasing around 3.5 kilos of carbon dioxide an hour. It has been calculated that if one is used for 210 days for eight hours a day, it generates as much carbon dioxide as a new car driving 20,000 kilometres.
“We have put ourselves at the vanguard of the movement,” Green district councillor Holger Kirchner told the Berliner Zeitung. He said he did not want to prevent people from sitting outside, “But one doesn't have to heat up the outside in November.”
The district council had hoped that the city senate would solve the problem and issue a ban covering the whole city. When it became clear this was not going to happen, Pankow councillors took action and amended the licensing rules. Three other big districts are following suite, with changes which take effect from the beginning of January.
Pankow council has received two challenges against the decision, which will go to court. The Hotel and Restaurant Association has also made an official complaint.