Climate change mitigation - National responses
What are the policy responses?
Policies and Measures
The first national Climate Strategy was developed in 2002. After a comprehensive evaluation process, the Climate Strategy was amended in 2007. In addition, most Federal Provinces (Länder) have formulated their own regional climate change programmes, taking into account specific regional circumstances and needs. These programmes ideally supplement the national strategy. Additionally, joint and coordinated policies and measures (CCPMs) as an element of EU policy are implemented and transposed into national law at the appropriate level and have contributed to combating climate change (BMLFUW 2009).
The Ministries of Environment and of Economy have developed the Austrian Energy Strategy in order to achieve the national targets of the Energy and Climate Package. If the proposed measures are implemented, it is projected that Austria will reduce its GHG emissions outside the EU ETS by more than 16% by 2020, compared to 2005. In addition, the share of renewable energy sources will exceed 34% (the value of the renewables Directive) in 2020 (BMFWJ & BMLFUW 2010).
In addition, a national Climate Mitigation Act is under development. It is foreseen that this Act will identify clear responsibilities in achieving national and sectoral GHG targets.
A series of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is embedded in different sectoral policies and has been implemented over the past years. Nevertheless, there is still need for enhancement and intensification of several measures that have been implemented.
Energy demand (residential and commercial)
Policies and measures aim at increased energy efficiency and intensified use of energy sources that are less carbon intensive by improving technical minimum standards and support schemes for energy efficient construction of buildings as well as by providing subsidies for biomass and solar space heating systems and for the thermal renovation of buildings. With respect to public awareness, numerous campaigns concerning domestic energy saving have been performed at national, regional and municipal level and by NGOs. Advisory services by publicly funded energy agencies and training programmes for specific target groups have been established and have become increasingly popular throughout the last decade.
The decline in GHG emissions mainly follows thermal insulation measures, the increasing use of renewable energy sources, district heating supply, and other factors such as mild winters. Further measures will be necessary, as well as stepping up of existing measures such as raising thermal insulation rates, increasing the efficient use of renewable energy sources combined with the best available technologies, and new approaches such as micro Combined Heat and Power Plants (CHP), and local heating. A recent revision and extension of a constitutional treaty between the Federation and the Länder concerning housing subsidies ('Wohnbauföderung') will promote further measures.
In the energy supply sector, measures to increase the share of renewable energy sources in electricity production (Green Electricity Act) and to promote district heating from renewable energy sources have been implemented. Emission trading is the stimulus with highest relevance for emission reduction in conventional power plants. In Austria, about 200 energy intensive installations from industry and energy supply are covered by the EU ETS. While emissions from the ETS sector are capped, plants that do not participate in emission trading are required to cut down their emissions significantly. Consequently, supplementary efforts will be made to slow down the growth in electricity demand.
EU ETS is the most important single measure in this sector. Subsidies are provided for energy efficiency measures and use of renewable energy sources in industry. For example, the domestic environmental support scheme is to provide economic incentives for companies to implement measures in the field of energy efficiency, climate and environment protection. In general, the subsidy covers 30% of the environment related investment costs. Higher or lower subsidy rates are foreseen in certain circumstances.
Measures in the transport sector range from taxes based on fuel consumption, increase in energy efficiency, promotion of alternative fuels and propulsion systems to awareness raising and support of projects for sustainable transport.
Fluorinated gases, Waste management and Agriculture
The use of fluorinated gases has been restricted by law. Emissions in the waste sector have been significantly reduced by the reduced total organic carbon content of waste fractions disposed to landfills and by the collection of landfill gas. Support for sustainable agriculture and organic farming is granted.
Joint Implementation, Clean Development Mechanism (JI/CDM)
According to the national Climate Strategy the Austrian JI/CDM Programme will contribute 45 Tg CO2 equivalents (i.e. 9 Tg CO2 equivalents per year) to achieving the Austrian Kyoto target in the period 2008-2012.