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ENERGY

Germany should ditch Christmas lights this year, says environmental group

Germany should go without Christmas light displays this year due to the Ukraine war and subsequent energy crisis, as well as the climate emergency, according to a high profile environmental group.

Christmas lights on a street in Flensburg during Christmas 2021.
Christmas lights on a street in Flensburg during Christmas 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Benjamin Nolte

German cities and towns are already discussing how to cut back on energy usage during the festive season as the country grapples with fears over a gas shortage and rocketing energy costs. 

Now Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe or DUH) – has said that businesses and households should massively cut down on lighting further in view of the energy crisis – and to protect the environment. 

“This winter, it should be a matter of course to do without Christmas lights in cities as well as those in houses and apartments,” DUH managing director Jürgen Resch told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

“In view of the war in Ukraine, the energy shortage, but also for reasons of climate protection, we should pause for a moment,” said Resch.

Environmentalists see the crisis as an opportunity for looking at sustainability and species conservation.

He pointed to the scale of electricity used for light displays during the Christmas season. “Private lighting alone causes electricity consumption of over 600 million kilowatt hours per year – as much as a medium-sized city with 400,000 inhabitants consumes in a year,” Resch said.

“Add to that the potential savings from not having Christmas lights in our cities and towns.”

Resch suggested a different approach this year. “Perhaps this can be reduced to one illuminated tree per community,” he said.

“Consciously doing without (lights) here – saving and showing solidarity – that could make this Christmas season a very special one.”

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s energy saving rules

The German government has called on people to cut down on energy consumption as Russia continues to squeeze the supply. 

As The Local has been reporting, districts across the country are considering how to save energy during the darker months. 

Many regions are cutting down on lighting displays or getting rid of ice rinks. 

READ ALSO: German cities look to cut back on Christmas lights amid energy crisis

According to a survey by the trade association, lots of retailers are planning to ditch lights this year because of the sharp rise in electricity costs.

Vocabulary 

Christmas lights – (die) Weihnachtsbeleuchtung 

Climate protection – (der) Klimaschutz

Electricity consumption – (der) Stromverbrauch

Illuminated/lit up – beleuchtet

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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ENERGY

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

 “We are in the process of asking the NATO Secretary General to set up a coordination office for the protection of underwater infrastructure,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press conference in Berlin.

“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should believe that attacks will remain without consequences,” he said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the alliance would be “an informal initiative to exchange between civilian and also military actors” with NATO providing “a centre, a coordination point”.

Underwater cables and pipelines were “arteries of the modern economy” and it was necessary to create “a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure”, he said.

Scholz said he and Store would propose the plan to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is due in Berlin for a security conference. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm were targeted by two huge explosions at the end of September.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected
retaliation to Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Although they were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

Several European countries have since taken steps to increase security around critical infrastructure. 

The G7 interior ministers warned earlier this month at a meeting in Germany that the Nord Stream explosions had highlighted “the need to better protect our critical infrastructure”.

Norway has become Europe’s main gas supplier in the wake of the war in Ukraine, taking the place of Russia.

The Scandinavian country has a vast network of pipelines, stretching for almost 9,000 kilometres, linking it to the continent, which experts have said are at risk of sabotage.

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