Germany’s Scholz dims lights on Christmas tree amid energy squeeze

The Christmas tree outside Chancellor Olaf Scholz's office in Berlin will not be lit as long this year, a government spokesman said Thursday, as Germany seeks to save energy through the winter.

The Christmas tree outside the Chancellery in Berlin.
The Christmas tree outside the Chancellery in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

The lights on the tree will only shine for four hours each evening from four o’clock to eight, instead of burning constantly as they did last year, the spokesman told AFP.

The fir, plucked from the forests of nearby Brandenburg, is decorated with 4,920 low-energy LED lights, which will consume 287 watt-hours.

A children’s choir on Thursday sang the classic carol “O Tannenbaum” (O Christmas Tree) at the foot of the tree in Scholz’s presence.

Last year, the tree was put up while conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel was still in office.

The erstwhile German leader stepped down on December 8th to make way for Social Democrat Scholz, and his coalition partners, the Greens and the liberal FDP.

A few hundred metres from the chancellery, the Christmas tree in front of the Brandenburg Gate will also only be lit for six hours a day instead, as opposed to 24. 

READ ALSO: Cold showers to turning off lights: How German cities are saving energy

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 upturned global energy markets, sending prices soaring and confronting Europe with the possibility of shortages over the winter.

To avoid acute problems around the turn of the year Germany has set about tapping new sources of natural gas and encouraging energy saving measures.

Floodlights that illuminate some 200 public monuments and buildings in Berlin — including its red-brick city hall, State Opera House and Charlottenburg Palace — have also been turned off overnight since July.

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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.