‘Green’ Austria red-faced over EU emissions study

The Austrian government’s attempts to label Austria as an “eco-friendly country” with the know-how for “green technologies” of the future have suffered a throwback as Austria has been revealed as doing badly in reducing its emissions.The European Commission’s (EC) environmental experts announced today (Weds) there were 9.6 per cent more carbon dioxide emissions in Austria in 2008 than in 1990.They said only Spain and Luxembourg did worse among the first 15 European Union (EU) member states with respective rises of 40 and 28 per cent.Another result of the EU-wide study is that Austria reduced its emissions by a meagre 0.4 per cent from 2007 to 2008.Austria must lower its carbon dioxide emissions compared to 1990 data by 13 per cent by 2012, according to the Kyoto Agreement from 1997.Austria has claimed the status of an “environmentally-friendly” country for many years, and the government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) recently increased initiatives to be regarded as an “eco-friendly” country.ÖVP Environmental Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich has stressed he wants to increase investments on “green jobs” to create sustainable employment.”I’m currently working on a master plan for a green jobs initiative which will be presented in autumn. Economic and science leaders have liaised with me, and the ministry will have invested 760 million Euros in ‘green jobs’ by the end of this year,” he said.The minister claimed Austria was “enjoying world fame” in developing environmental technologies.Berlakovich said another goal of his agenda was to raise the share of renewable energy sources to 34 per cent until 2020.”We will create 100,000 new ‘eco jobs’. Protecting the climate does not just save the environment, but also creates work,” he said.ÖVP Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll recently said he wanted to introduce “eco taxes” in the government’s bid to reduce the soaring state debt and the whopping budget deficit to match the EU’s criteria until 2013.Pröll promised the possible new taxes will be “balanced and well considered” while SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann said: “The ÖVP must lay its cards on the table. Austrians want to know what ‘eco taxes’ is supposed to mean.”The chancellor accused the coalition partners of preparing a “bluff package” featuring higher taxes on car fuel.