Why Austria is lagging behind its EU climate targets

A report by the European Union Commission states that Austria is not on track to meet its 2040 carbon neutral targets.

Wind turbines in the rape seed field in Austria
The energy crisis is a big challenge for Austria right now. (Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash)

Austria has an ambitious plan to become carbon neutral by 2040, but the EU Commission claims the country is not on track to meet its climate neutrality target.

“So far, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are not on a trajectory compatible with Austria’s binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in sectors outside the EU Emissions Trading System by 36 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005”, the report claims.

READ ALSO: How will climate change impact Austria?

Even when accounting for additional measures, the country still risks falling short of its goal by 9 percentage points, the Brussels authority announced on Monday as part of the European Semester.

One of the major challenges for Austria is reducing transport-related emissions, as the country serves as a significant transit point for transalpine road freight, the EU says.

Therefore, it recommends Austria develops further mobility solutions and alternatives to car use, citing “local buses, car sharing, soft mobility”.

This includes solutions to connect remote and rural areas to public transport networks, a particularly crucial movement in a country that has several rural villages and towns – and many commuters to larger cities.

READ ALSO: How Austria plans to become carbon neutral by 2040

“Efforts to further decarbonise and electrify heavy-duty vehicles could also be stepped up to curb emissions”, the Brussels commission added.

Bureaucracy halts investments

According to the report, lengthy permitting procedures and underinvestment in the electricity grid are also critical challenges for reaching renewable energy targets.

The commission mentioned that “investment in renewable energy is hampered by complex spatial planning and permitting procedures”.

READ ALSO: How Vienna plans to expand its tram and park & ride systems for commuters

The process of acquiring the necessary licences for wind power projects, for example, typically takes 6.3 years, according to the report.

This is due to the bureaucracy involved in the division of powers between the federal and regional governments and partly due to staffing problems.

According to the EU commission, the country needs to invest an estimated € 18bn in accommodating the planned expansion of renewable power generation.

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Austria heading into a rainy and cooler weekend after heatwave peak

After the heatwave reached its peak on Thursday with temperatures of up to 37C, the hot weather will subside (but not by much) as Austria gets showers and thunderstorms.

Austria heading into a rainy and cooler weekend after heatwave peak

Austria is experiencing one of the hottest summers in history and the effects of the hot and dry days can be seen all over the country.

From dried-out lakes to forest fires, the pictures showcasing the extreme weather’s impact are strong. The current heatwave, with temperatures above 30C every day since Saturday, August 13th, is set to peak this Thursday..

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: How drought and extreme heat are affecting Austria

Still, it seems there will be some relief as the Austrian meteorologic agency ZAMG forecasts rainfall for the coming days in the country.

It starts on Thursday, with rain and thunderstorms forecast for western Austria, though temperatures are still high and the east, including Vienna, is less likely to see rain today.

From Friday, though, rain and thunderstorms are expected for the entire country, with extreme weather for strong winds and storms. Early temperatures will stay between 14C and 24C, but maximum temperatures in the west, where it should rain all day long, will often be around 20C.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

In the east though, the sunniest locations could see the mercury rise to 35C.

On Saturday, early temperatures will be between 13C to 21C while daily maximum temperatures stay between 20C to 28C, with the east of Austria again seeing less rain and higher temperatures.

On Sunday, central regions of the country are likely to experience some rainfall, but by the afternoon most clouds will clear and showers will subside. Early morning temperatures will be between 11C and 20C, but will rise to between 22C to 28C later on in the day.

The weather will generally be sunny and dry next week, ZAMG reports. Daily maximum temperatures will be between 23C to 28C, according to the weather institute.

READ ALSO: How to avoid getting heat exhaustion in Austria’s scorching weather

What’s the weather going to be like in Vienna?

Friday will still be sunny and hot in Vienna, though the probability of showers and storms will increase near the evening hours. Daily maximum temperatures are around 33C.

Saturday morning is forecast to be rainy, but the skies will clear slightly during the day. Maximum temperatures will be around 26C.

On Sunday, some clouds still be present, which could lead to light rain, ZAMG says. Maximum daytime temperatures continue at 26C.