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Austria slips in climate change rankings

The Local · 8 Dec 2014, 20:19

Published: 08 Dec 2014 20:19 GMT+01:00

Ranking in only 36th place, Austria is listed well below most other developed countries in terms of its commitment to emissions controls, especially in terms of carbon-dioxide (CO2).

The best performing countries include Denmark, in top position, followed by Sweden and the United Kingdom.  Denmark has held the top position for the past three years.

France remains in 12th position, while Germany has maintained its position at 22nd, despite large investments in renewable energy.

The Climate Change Performance Index compares the progress on climate change among the 58 countries who are responsible for 90 percent of global CO2 emissions.

China, the world's biggest emitter, has shown improvements in the efficiency sector and massive investments in renewables. 

The cause of Austria's poor performance is a lack of political initiative, according to John Wahlmüller, spokesman for the Austrian environmental lobby group Global 2000.  

"Austria's policy has been in a deep sleep for the last three years.  Not a single significant policy initiative was set, nor was there progress on implementation of EU directives.  Political initiatives, funding and the courage to commit to long-term thinking are urgently needed", he said.

The Netherlands plummeted eight places from last year, while Austria dropped five. Austria’s emissions are not decreasing and it is likely to miss its 2020 climate and energy targets, despite its high renewables and energy efficiency potential.  It is also one of the few EU countries to have not yet contributed to the Green Climate Fund, experts told EurActiv.

The last place (61) is occupied by Saudi Arabia, which has the worst record on curbing the growth of its emission trends, and lack of investment in renewable energy.

Denmark's performance is particularly impressive.  Its CO2 emissions have been declining steadily since 1997, in the last five years by an impressive 19 per cent.

"All that and more, Austria could also implement", said Wahlmüller.

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"Now it is important that the promised government program of measures for climate protection with their associated eco-social tax reform, thermal building renovation and investment in public transport, are submitted soon by Environment Minister Andrae Rupprechter."

"Austria has to stand by its promises at the international level.  [The goals of] Lima are a shameful idea for Austria, if no contribution to the Green Climate Fund will be made," said Wahlmüller.

"The entire federal government is required to take climate change seriously," said Wahlmüller.

"Austria is one of the few developed countries to have made no commitment through a financial contribution to the Green Climate Fund, which has already attracted international attention and earned our country the negative award 'Fossil of the Day', which is awarded by 900 environmental organizations." 

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