This year, Greenpeace Austria celebrates its 30th birthday (me too). To celebrate this anniversary, Greenpeace hosted a discussion on future challenges for Austria’s energy, climate and environmental policy in the Austrian Parliament where its CEO Alexander Egit once again put the main challenges for our new government into a nutshell.
At the end of the fossil era, Greenpeace’s answer to our most pressing energy issues is independence from fossil fuels. In this regard, the extent of the recent repression against Greenpeace around the world – whether it’s the extreme charges against the Arctic 30 or a $2m lawsuite against Greenpeace Canada – is both a threat to our democracy and an indicator that the final battle for the world’s fossil fuels has already begun.
So, Austria’s next government should use this legislative period to lay the foundation of getting rid of fossil fuels, in particular by promoting renewable energy and finally introducing an energy efficiency law. While it is clear that the transition to 100% renewable energy won’t be free, we should stand up against the recent public attacks on the German and Austrian “Energiewende” (energy transition) and point out that fossil fuel subsidies are still much higher than renewable energy subsidies.
Moreover, Austria should foster local, regional and organic agriculture that is GMO-free and uses less pesticides. In this regard, the proposed EU-USA free trade agreement is probably the greatest threat to Europe’s and Austria’s ecology. In addition, sustainable transportation measures and thermal refurbishment of buildings offer great potential for emission cuts and energy savings and should be implemented despite the apparent holes in Austria’s budget. Finally, an eco-social tax reform was also on Alexander Egit’s wishlist who misses the political will for such reforms in Austria.