Belvedere Castle, Austria - Photo Credit - nbieser & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the forty-second edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Having examined the role of enhanced oil recovery in reducing CO2 emissions last week, I’m returning to my country-by-country analysis and this week I’m focusing on Austria.
Austria ranks eighteen highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and with the exception of the current ranking has consistently being a top 10 ranking country in this biennial index since its inception in January 2006.
Paris Agreement Targets
As part of Austria’s Paris Agreement targets, the country has agreed to reduce its GhG emissions by at least 36% of 1990 levels by 2030. This was agreed as part of the EU’s overall target to reduce emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030 as a whole.
The EU Climate Leaderboard produced Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment ranks Austria 16th out of the EU countries for its position towards negotiating the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). The leaderboard challenged Austria’s support of using the average of 2016 – 2018 emissions as a starting point, seeking the inclusion of a land use loophole (forestry) to offset emissions, and its lack of clarity towards its long-term emissions reduction targets.
In December 2017, the Austrian People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the Austrian far-right Freedom party Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) formed a coalition government. During the 2013 election campaign, Swiss publication jet d’encre reviewed the environmental policy section of the respective political parties’ election manifestos.
Unsurprisingly, the Austrian Green Party had a comprehensive environmental section in their manifesto. ÖVP had 12 measures which included increasing the proportion of energy generated from renewable energy sources and calling for a climate treaty with the largest emitting nations: China, US, and emerging economies. At that time, FPÖ did not have any environmental policy in their election manifesto.
The FPÖ party’s website has an environmental policy section and encouragingly is in favour of the phase-out of coal in Austria as agreed by previous governments.
Looking at the Energy section of the program for government signed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) the new coalition government has set an ambitious target to be fossil-fuel free in the generation of electricity by 2030. This goal will be supported by the construction of renewable energy power plants.
According to latest statistics produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for Austria, roughly 77% of electricity produced domestically came from renewable energy. Hydropower was the largest source of electricity generation, with over 60% of all electricity was produced at hydropower plants.
Lower Austria, Austria’s largest state with a population of 1.7 million inhabitants, reported in November 2015, that for the first time it generated all its electricity from renewable sources. Similarly to the national split, hydropower was the largest contributor with just over 60% of the overall mix.
Like all the other EU nations, Austria supports the EU’s target of reducing CO2 emissions across the union by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030. Austria plans to phase out the use of coal and fossil-fuels and has set an ambitious target of generating all its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The new coalition government supports this goal in its program for government. The goal may be bold, but it is not unrealistic, 77% of electricity generated in Austria is sourced from renewable energy and the largest state in Austria already sources all its electricity from renewable energy.
Next week’s blog will profile Ireland and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 41 Enhanced Oil Recovery: extracting oil more efficiently and replacing it with CO2.
Week 40 Clean 15: what can we learn from the low carbon economies.
Week 39 Norway: driving carbon storage and electric cars in Europe