Vice Mayor of Vienna Birgit Hebein (Greens) unveiled a “milestone for the climate future” in a press conference earlier this month. The Austrian capital will establish climate protection zones in which new buildings will no longer utilize oil and gas, but rather rely on environmentally friendly energy sources.
According to Hebein, buildings are among the largest consumers of fossil energy, making the application of the new standards absolutely necessary for both public and private construction companies. The plan aims to regulate 80% of the new buildings erected in the city, saving 112,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2030. “That’s equivalent to 1,000 car trips to the moon and back – or 1.5 million car trips to the Brenner Pass,” says Hebein.
The initiative launches in four districts – Leopoldstadt, Landstraße, Neubau and Ottakring – and will expand to the rest of the city by mid 2020. While all districts are set to carry out the new ordinances, the city is not expecting a 100% success rate: according to energy spokesman for the Vienna Greens Peter Kraus, suitable infrastructure for the use of environmentally friendly energy sources is still missing in some areas.
This is an important sustainable step in Vienna’s fight against the climate crisis. Just recently, local farmers reported substantial damage to their crops caused by the extreme heat and drought, while a new study warns of the effects of climate change on Vienna. According to the study, the Austrian capital is one of the most affected cities in Europe, said to get eight degrees warmer by 2050. “This has deadly consequences for those with poor health, old age or low income” stresses Hebein.
With the new protection zones underway, the city’s additional 8 million euros allocated for tree-planting announced in June and the creation of cool zones, it is apparent the city of Vienna is not sleeping on its problems. Whether or not this will effectively halt devastating forecasts, only time will tell.