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Policies, measures and actions on climate change and
environmental protection in the context of COVID-19 recovery.

Austria Austria

Last update 27 Apr. 2021

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Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology

Leonore Gewessler

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Key investments in measures and actions on climate change and environmental protection in the context of COVID-19 recovery

Key investments in climate action and a climate-friendly economy were defined as central pillars of the Austrian federal government’s COVID-19 economic stimulus package aimed at helping to overcome the corona crisis. Following the government’s conference, an anouncment was made that one billion euros in support will be provided for climate action each year in 2021 and 2022. This measure is planned as a supplement to priorities that have already been budgeted. Additional investments are already set to begin in 2020. In any case, the total package for the period until 2022 will amount to EUR 2.14 billion. In addition, funds totalling EUR 75 million will be provided for environmental measures for bodies of water.

Categories

Response
Emergency measures in the short term (a few months to one year) to address concerns that have directly emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic and may include forced action.
Recovery
Socioeconomic measures in the medium term (one to a few years) with an environmental and climate focus to “build back better” from COVID-19, and usually involves planned, intentional action.
Redesign
Paradigm shifts and measures in the long term (more than a few years to a few decades) toward redesigning current socioeconomic and sociocultural systems to be sustainable and resilient.

1.Climate mitigation measures

  • Building sector

    Recovery
    Renovation offensive
    The funds in the area of thermal rehabilitation, for the boiler replacement initiative, and for the decarbonisation of district and local heating were increased considerably. At EUR 750 million, the resources budgeted for 2021 and 2022 these purposes make up a significant portion of the package, and particular emphasis is placed on lower-income households in the switch to non-fossil heating in order to give them access as well. 350 Mio. € in 2021, and 400 Mio. € each year from 2022 to 2024 are specifically earmarked for the replacement of fossil fuel-based heating systems in households ("beyond oil and gas").
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
  • Transition to renewable energy

    Recovery Redesign
    Expansion of renewable energies / "1 million roofs"
    Emphasis will continue to be placed on the expansion of renewable energy, with the goal of generating 100 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. In order to achieve this target, one million roofs that produce solar electricity are to be built in Austria. An additional EUR 260 million will be made available for this purpose in the 2021 and 2022. In addition, the new Renewables Expansion Act (government draft submitted to Parliament), is expected to result in another surge in investment. Austria already has the third highest share of renewable electricity among all 30 member countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA). The further expansion of renewable energy in the electricity and natural gas segments represents an important cornerstone for a climate-neutral energy system and is an essential driver for a green economic programme.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
  • Technological innovation (digitalization / hydrogen/ CCUS, etc.)

    Redesign
    Climate-friendly technologies for the future
    The economic stimulus package also provides 300 Mio. € for research and innovation in the field of climate action and future technologies, which play a key role in the path towards climate neutrality. This will also include battery research, for example. The exit from fossil fuels in the mobility sector is a central priority in the fight against the climate crisis. Innovative research in the field of vehicle technologies can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. At the same time, innovative companies strengthen Austria as an economic region, which in turn secures jobs in the country. Austria´s goal is that everyone in the country can be mobile in an environmentally friendly manner and with low emissions – and that mobility remains affordable and convenient in the process.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
  • Household sector

    Redesign
    Value-added tax relief
    A VAT tax relfief in the amount of EUR 100 million for repairs was introduced to help combat the “throwaway society” and support relevant services. This measure supports services and corresponding employment as well as the circular economy. The aim is to create incentives to have appliances repaired rather than thrown away, and at the same time to stimulate companies in the repair sector through a reduced VAT rate. As defined by EU law, this covers small repair services, such as bicycles, shoes and tailoring.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
  • Sustainable transportation

    Response Recovery Redesign
    Substantial investments will also be made in public transport
    540 million are foreseen in 2021 and 2022 for investement into public transport systems and for promoting sustainable and climate-friendly mobility. This includes the financing of an Austria-wide ticket for all forms of public transport that will cost 1095 Euro for a year (i.e. three euros a day). At the same time, the federal government will invest an additional EUR 300 million in public transport as a climate-friendly form of mobility. These are additional funds that had not yet been budgeted in the Medium-term Budgeting Framework Act. This money will primarily go to the expansion of infrastructure. An annual subsidy of EUR 10 million will also be provided for night trains starting in 2024.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
  • Building sector

    Response Recovery
    Renovation of buildings/schools
    This measure focuses on the renovation of the building substance and adaptation measures to improve the school functions, but also includes the construction of new buildings. Here, ecological criteria/sustainable school construction will be the main focus. Until 2030 2,4 bn € will be invested.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
  • Industry sector

    Response Recovery Redesign
    Investment premium
    An new investment support programme was introduced in 2020 to stimulate companies' investements in greening, digitalisation and healthcare. For such investments companies could submit applications (until Februar 2021) for a grant covering 14 per cent of investment costs. This will make climate-friendly investments such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and investments in reducing air pollutants and other forms of pollution particularly attractive for companies. Environmentally harmful investments were explicitly excluded. From a total of € 3 bn. of grants € 750 mio. € are used specifically for green investments.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Finance
  • Others

    Response Recovery Redesign
    Investment Program for Municipalities
    (Municipal Investment Act ): With this extended version of the program of 2017/2018, municipalities may apply for a subsidy for investments from the COVID-19 crisis management fund. Newly added to the list of eligible projects are climate action and ecological measures. A total of €1 billion is available, 20% (200 mio. €) were earmarked for green measures.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Finance
  • Transition to renewable energy

    Recovery
    Additional Funding for District Heating
    The environmental Fund got additional budget for 2020 and 2021 for high efficient biomass district heating and use of industrial heat. With this additional budget of annually 20 Mio. € and the cofinancing of the regions and the EAFRD we expect additional projects for about EUR 250 Million per year. This should boost the investments, mainly in remote rural areas.
    Contact Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology

2.Other environmental measures

  • Measures related to ecosystem services / biodiversity / land use / agriculture

    Redesign
    Forest Fund
    EUR 350 million are provided for a package of measures relating to forests. This set of measures was developed together with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism and is intended to provide essential measures and research projects for the establishment of more climate-fit forests. One key component in this regard are biodiversity measures, which among other things will support the diversity of our forests through the expansion of the network of natural forest reserves.
    Contact Federal Federal Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Agricutlure, Forestry and Tourism Ministry of Agricutlure, Forestry and Tourism
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