Berlin debates cutting down on Christmas lights to save energy

Berlin debates cutting down on Christmas lights to save energy

Announcements that fountains and spotlights on monuments in Berlin would be turned off in future to save energy drew a mixed response last week, but now the Senate has gone one step further and suggested that the capital’s beloved Christmas lighting could be next for the chop. The reaction has not been positive. 

Would Berlin really turn off the Christmas lights to save energy?

Economics Senator Stephan Schwarz unleashed an outcry in the city of Berlin this week when he refused to rule out the possibility of reducing or even not switching on the Christmas lights that usually bedeck the capital’s primary thoroughfares and shopping streets each year, as part of the city's new programme to save energy.

“It’s a proposal that’s on the table, but the same applies here: we have to evaluate it and have to classify it,” Schwarz told dpa. “Every kilowatt hour that we save is a contribution.” He added that the Senate would not only look at the potential energy savings of the move, but also social and economic effects - for instance the extent to which it would dampen the public mood, or affect retailers’ Christmas sales. 

“Christmas lighting is part of the joie de vivre

However, in a country that is as enthusiastic about Christmas as Germany, any proposal to dim the Christmas lights will likely come up against some fierce opposition. Klaus-Jürgen Meier of AG City, which contributes towards Christmas lighting on the Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzien shopping streets, told Berliner Zeitung, “Christmas lighting is part of the joie de vivre. We can’t all just sit in dark basements.” He added that, since most Christmas lights nowadays use economical LEDs, the savings potential is not even that great.

Nils Busch-Petersen, from the German Retail Association (HDE), told Berliner Zeitung that turning off Christmas lights would have a catastrophic effect on the “mood and feelings” of the general public. “After two corona winters and the impending war winter, you have to stabilise them mentally,” he said. 

Berlin Senate preparing energy-saving plan

The Senate is set to present a comprehensive strategy for saving energy in the next couple of weeks, after Germany signed up to EU plans to reduce consumption by 15 percent before March 2023. Berlin wants to save at least 10 percent of its administration’s energy consumption, and as it weighs up possibilities, politicians have stressed that no option is completely off the table.

Last week, Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch announced that 200 of the city’s sights and attractions, monuments and historical buildings would no longer be lit up at night to save energy. Now other sectors are also considering where they could save energy.

The Vice President of the HDE, Günter Pets, said that businesses could consider no longer illuminating their shop windows at night, while Social Senator Katja Kipping has also suggested switching off neon signs and other kinds of lighting outside of shop opening hours.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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