German city dims lights ahead of ‘hard times’

STORY: It's a summer night in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, but the square's historic facades aren't floodlit and the streets are dim and quiet.

Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas, and Augsburg is one of many cities to have rolled out energy-saving measures in response to lower Russian gas deliveries and to prepare for any total cut-off.

Around Europe, countries are looking for ways to cut energy consumption and fill up their gas stores, since the invasion of Ukraine pushed up energy prices and sparked a cost of living crisis.

Mayor Eva Weber said the city's energy bills could almost double this year.

“What was very important to me was to show the Augsburg citizens that we could be facing really hard times. That’s why for example we turned off the illumination of our historic buildings and fountains operate no longer as long as they used to to show that these are not normal times and to show that we all need to look to really save energy.”

Augsburg has lowered the temperature in its public pools and turned off many fountains.

It's checking which traffic lights it can switch off and, like other cities, it wants to reduce heating in public buildings.

But Germany is Europe's largest economy and energy experts say more measures will be needed to achieve energy security.

Augsburg's residents welcomed the gesture.

“I think it’s a pretty good idea. It shows that the city is making an effort to save a little energy. I’m not sure how much it actually saves but as a gesture, I think it’s good to show to people it's possible to save energy in times like these.”

Around half of German households rely on gas for their heating and about 13% of electricity is derived from it.

Gas also accounts for a third of the energy used in industry.

In recent years, half that gas has come from Russia.

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