At first glance, the website with the public letter appears to be hacked. This is how unusual the stage is. Where many in the housing sector or, above all, in the Union and the FDP still struggle for fear of their electorate, representatives of the housing sector are now breaking a taboo.
In a public letter to the Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein Daniel Günther (CDU), the Association of Housing Societies of North Germany (VNW) declares itself in favor of renunciation and moderation: in favor of renunciation largely to single-family homes. In favor of climate protection.
He literally says: “Given the increased waterproofing of surfaces and for the sake of durability, the construction of multi-storey residential buildings certainly makes the most sense. Of course, this does not preclude the construction of single family homes – where it fits – but it should be handled with care. And further: “In particular, the planning authorities of towns and municipalities are called upon to draw lessons from the recent floods when designating residential areas. A spokesperson for VNW confirmed the authenticity of the letter. Talking no longer helps. Something must be done urgently! Attractive living and low space consumption can certainly be combined.
It’s just an association in northern Germany, yes of course. But according to VNW information, the VNW represents almost 400 housing cooperatives and municipal housing associations in Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein. About 1.5 million people live in the 686,000 apartments they manage.
“We believe that more is possible in housing policy.”
In the sensational letter, VNW Director Andreas Breitner and Schleswig-Holstein State President Marcel Sonntag speak out in favor of creating more green spaces, greening existing spaces, reducing the number of parking spaces, construction of taller houses, closure of vacant lots and buildings to be renovated. “We believe that more is possible in housing policy and that there is room for improvement,” he continues. You might be aware that Breitner was an SPD politician and Interior Minister of Schleswig-Holstein from 2012 to 2014, before becoming director of the VNW association in 2015.
But political contacts don’t seem to be the worst. Especially given the urgent need for action due to the recent climatic disasters in Germany as well. And this is how Breitner, together with his colleague Sonntag, continues to demand: less land consumption, more sustainability and a green shift in cities and centers. “It’s not five to four, it’s twelve, but we can still act.” A lesson learned from the recent floods in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate is that residential areas should not be built in potential flood plains by rivers. It’s about turning the tide, so the directors in their urgent appeal.
According to the VNW, it is a coincidence that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented another status report on Monday after about seven years. The aim is to explain exactly “to what extent climate change is responsible for extreme weather events, disasters and the like in the world”. It is undisputed among these scientists that people with their energy production, intensive agriculture, deforestation, animal husbandry and environmental pollution are largely responsible for climate change. But just how great that influence is, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could show again in the report.
The warmest six years since the start of measurements since the last report. Globally, the average temperature is already about 1.2 degrees above the pre-industrial level, in Germany it is 1.6 degrees higher. “In Germany, we will decide in the federal elections on September 26 which way to go,” said the spokesperson.