Austria Not Pulling its Weight in Meeting Kyoto Objectives

austrian industry

Image courtesy of yourbartender via flickr

Austrian states, or Länder, need to ramp up their efforts to slash their emissions production if they are to meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, says Joseph Pröll, the country's environment minister. Austria has pledged to cut its emissions by 13% below 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 period. The country has already gotten off to a bad start: In 2006 alone, it emitted 91 millions tons of carbon dioxide -- 32% more than its emissions target. Having originally adopted a laissez-faire approach to regulating its states' emissions growth -- a policy that has proven to be a spectacular failure (or "limited," in Pröll's parlance) -- the government now plans on cracking down on the errant Länder, submitting legislation that would require the states and businesses to reach firm targets by 2012.

The biggest culprits in recent years have been the transportation and construction sectors: According to government statistics, the former, which has seen emissions growth surge by more than 83% above 1990 levels, is responsible for 25% of Austria's emissions. The growth is attributed to the country's relatively low petroleum prices and its vast stretches of road. Werner Faymann, the transport minister, is worried that budget constraints and EU regulations could impede efforts to impose new legislation, such as driver fees or a gas tax, or to promote the use of high-speed rail systems.

Austria currently ranks second-to-last among the 15 original EU nations in progress made towards reaching its Kyoto objectives. Given its pace of emissions reductions, the country will likely need to buy itself out of its predicament by purchasing carbon credits -- a cost that could exceed 2 billion euros.

Via ::Le Monde: L'Autriche, mauvais élève de la lutte contre l'effet de serre (news website)

See also: ::Malta - 1 : Austria - 0 (If Greening Were An International Sporting Event), ::Future of the Alps Conference Underway in Austria