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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

German energy firm RWE takes Gazprom to court over supply halts

German's RWE said Tuesday it is taking legal action against Russia's Gazprom over halted gas supplies, the latest German company to do so since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

German energy firm RWE takes Gazprom to court over supply halts

Following the invasion, Gazprom steadily dwindled pipeline supplies to Germany in apparent retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia, sending energy prices soaring.

Last week, German energy giant Uniper said it was seeking damages from Gazprom at an international tribunal, as the Russian company’s failure to deliver gas had cost them billions of euros.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Uniper takes Gazprom to court over halted gas supplies

An RWE spokeswoman confirmed to AFP the company had also launched action, but declined to give further details.

Gazprom’s failure to deliver promised supplies has meant that German companies, long heavily reliant on Russian energy, had to buy gas on world markets at far higher prices.

Financial daily Handelsblatt reported that the costs incurred by RWE were likely lower, at around €1 billion, than those faced by Uniper.

Uniper had far larger contracts, and has put its losses from the supply halts at €11.6 billion. Gazprom has rejected Uniper’s claims.

The company, Germany’s biggest gas importer, has agreed a deal to be nationalised after Russia’s drastic reduction in supplies pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy.

READ ALSO: How Germany became ensnared by Russian gas

It reported a €40 billion net loss for the first nine months of the
year, one of the biggest losses in German corporate history.

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