EXPLAINED: Why is Austria failing to reach its climate targets?

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EXPLAINED: Why is Austria failing to reach its climate targets?
A view of Vienna city centre. Photo by Manel & Sean on Unsplash

Austria has a range of climate protection goals to achieve in the coming years. But a new report says the country will miss these targets by far.


According to the study by the Federal Environment Agency, Austria will clearly miss EU climate targets for 2030 with the current climate protection measures.

The EU's target is for countries to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent of the 1990 levels by 2030.

But the report says that, if the current climate measures continue, greenhouse gas emissions in Austria would amount to 42 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent - 13 million more than planned.

The report called "Greenhouse gas emissions in Austria up to 2050" was submitted to the EU in mid-March and includes the WEM scenario ("with existing measures").

This includes legislative initiatives already in place, such as the expansion targets for renewable energy by 2030 and the EU's decision to largely phase out new cars with combustion engines by 2035. Measures that are still being developed, such as the Renewable Heat Act, are not included in these calculations.

READ ALSO: Is Austria doing enough to protect children from the climate crisis?


Austria has set a goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2040, which is one of the most ambitious targets across the EU.

According to the forecast by the Federal Environment Agency, the country is at risk of missing this target.

The report states that with the current measures, Austria would not even be able to achieve the EU-wide goal of climate neutrality by 2050. 

The country's CO2 emissions are projected to be around 55 million metric tons by 2050, which is well above zero and only 30 percent below the 1990 level.

Austria's emissions have fluctuated over the years and have now remained at the 1990 level. 

While efforts in areas such as power generation and waste treatment have been made, they have been offset by the rise in the transport sector. For instance, Austria's transport emissions have increased by 57 percent since 1990 due to increased diesel cars and freight traffic. 

READ ALSO: How will climate change impact Austria?

'Clear wake-up call'

Campaigners say action has to be taken now. 

"The result is frightening: Austria will only reach the legally binding EU reduction target in 2050, i.e. 20 years late," a spokesperson from Greenpeace said.

"The scenario is a clear wake-up call to the government: long overdue laws such as the Renewable Heat Act as well as the Climate Protection Act must be passed immediately to start the race to catch up in order to reach the climate targets," said Jasmin Duregger, climate and energy expert at Greenpeace in Austria.

"The government must now ambitiously revise the Austrian Climate and Energy Plan, which is due in June 2023, and set far-reaching measures for climate protection."

According to the study, the government will need to implement more effective measures to achieve its climate goals. The Federal Environment Agency said more measures are being discussed.


"Additional measures to achieve the current 2030 target, as well as the more ambitious 2030 target, are currently under discussion and have therefore not been included in the modelling," said the agency in the report. "Therefore, a full update with additional policies and measures to meet the national 2030 targets will be presented later this year."

However, it is proving difficult for the coalition government made up of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the Greens to agree on measures regarding climate and environmental protection issues.


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