Austria launches climate change programme

Government targets CO2 emissions from transport, housing, energy production

The Austrian cabinet today agreed a national climate protection programme aimed at reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the domestic and transport sectors, through more renewable energy and through greater cooperation at European level.

The programme, announced jointly by environment minister Wilhelm Molterer and finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, was promised as a priority by Mr Molterer in his maiden speech as environment minister (ENDS Daily 7 March). It was drawn up by a joint federal and provincial forum of civil servants and experts, and will now go to consultation at federal, provincial and municipal level. Negotiations for financing the programme will follow in the autumn.

Under the Kyoto protocol, Austria is committed to reducing emissions of CO2 and the five other "Kyoto" greenhouse gases by 13% from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. This represents a reduction of 10m tonnes per year of CO2 equivalent to 67m. The plan envisages the greatest potential for reducing CO2 emissions from space heating, with 5m tonnes. This would be achieved through better insulation, more renewable energy and more use of cogenerated heat and power. Energy standards for new buildings are also to be toughened.

In the transport sector, the government sees a potential reduction of 3.7m tonnes of CO2 including the introduction of distance-based lorry charging from 2002. The electricity generating industry is to carry a quarter of the burden with a 2.5m tonnes reduction to include increased production of renewable energy. Industry should contribute a saving of a further 1.25m tonnes. Fluorinated greenhouse gases are identified for possible bans. The waste industry has also been targeted, with methane emissions to be reduced by more incineration and energy recovery of landfill gas.

The Austrian government sees the climate change programme as an opportunity for domestic wealth creation, especially in the areas of renewable energy and renovation of old buildings.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment ministry, tel: +43 1 515 220 and press release.

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