The city of Berlin has begun to turn off spotlights which illuminate its historic monuments in a bid to save energy, according to German broadcaster RBB.
Against the backdrop of the European energy crisis, some 200 buildings and landmarks in the German capital, including the city hall, State Opera House, and Charlottenburg Palace will be plunged into darkness in the coming weeks, German officials announced.
“Given the war against Ukraine and the energy policy threats by Russia, it’s important that we be as careful as possible with our energy,” the city’s lead environmental official, Bettina Jarasch, told the press.
Monuments that are not administered by German authorities have also been asked by Jarasch to stop illuminating their buildings. According to Berlin officials, electricity consumption for monuments accounts to around 200,000 kilowatt hours per year, or roughly 150 one-person households.
The measure has generally been well received by opposition political parties and other major German cities are also now expected to stop in to shut off the lights on some of their major monuments as part of a nationwide push to save energy.
Before the war, Germany bought around 55% of its natural gas from Russia. With Russia poised to cut-off European supplies before the winter, German authorities are pushing to encourage the public to use energy sparingly.
- EU countries commit to reducing gas by 15%, with exemptions
- How to save and replace natural gas in the EU when Russia cuts off the supply
Germany’s far-right opposition party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), has criticised the move to plunge the city's monuments into darkness, citing concerns that it would make the city less attractive to tourists.
“This makes the city a good deal less attractive as a tourist metropolis,” said AfD parliamentary manager Ronald Gläser. “Berlin’s model no longer seems to be Paris, but Pyongyang.”
Despite the planned blackouts, the German Bundestag intends to keep illuminating the German parliament building, the Reichstag, due to “safety concerns.” The Bundestag will instead undertake other energy saving measures, such as using less power towards heating and cooling.