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EU chief hails Austria on climate change

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday hailed Austria's target of being carbon neutral by 2040 as an example for other European countries as she met the country's newly re-elected leader.

EU chief hails Austria on climate change
Austria is especially at risk of climate change. Photo: Picture Alliance

The incoming government in Vienna, a coalition between conservatives and greens, has vowed to make Austria a front-runner in climate protection by beating the EU-wide target of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“It is impressive to see that Austria has set itself the goal of being climate-neutral by 2040,” von der Leyen said as she met Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for talks in Brussels.

“I hope that the Austrian model with these ambitious goals will set an example for us.”

Austria has pledged to get all its energy from renewable resources by 2030 and to invest more in public transport but the government faces a tough task.

Renewable energy already accounts for about a third of Austria's consumption, almost double the EU average.

The leaders of the 28 EU states agreed last month to the target of making the bloc carbon neutral by 2050 but the deal was undermined by Poland refusing to implement the aim.

The EU's climate monitor warned this week that 2019 was the second hottest year ever recorded as world leaders struggle to get a grip on the environmental crisis.

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AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on today in Austria with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Person getting vaccinated
AFP/ALEX HALADA

Extra doses of vaccine to come to Austria

Austria will receive 198,815 additional doses of Biontech Pfizer vaccine doses, after the EU purchased an extra 10 million for member states, Der Standard newspaper reports. Austria had hoped the EU would give it even more extra doses to make up for AstraZeneca delivery problems which means it may fall behind in vaccination this year. 

No Austria-wide lockdown for now, says Kurz

The lockdown in the eastern states of Austria will stay limited to these regions for the time being, Chancellor Kurz  said on Thursday.  He said the country’s intensive care units, showed big differences between regions. States should help each other in the admission of intensive care patients, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Record deficit in Austria 

The pandemic has driven the deficit in Austria  to a record level of 8.9 percent of GDP in 2020. The €33.2 billion missing from the state budget, is the highest deficit since records began in 1954. The national debt ratio also rose in 2020 by 13.4 percent to  83.9 percent of economic output, it reports. Preliminary results from Statistics Austria show government spending rose by 12.6% or €24.4 billion compared to 2019 to a total of €217.4 billion, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. 

Unemployment fell in March

Unemployment fell significantly in March, but is still at a high level. At the end of March, 457,817 people were registered as unemployed or in AMS training, 51,106 fewer than last February and 104,705 fewer than in March 2020. The unemployment rate at the end of March was 9.4%, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points compared to February and 2.9 percentage points compared to March 2020, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports 

E-moped sharing scheme comes to Vienna

A new e-moped sharing has been available in Vienna since Thursday. The Go Sharing company starts renting its e-mopeds. Initially the fleet will comprise 200 vehicles, by the end of the year 500 of the green-painted mopeds should be on the road, broadcaster ORF reports. 

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