Help Support EcoWatch
The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Austria's New Government Sets Goal to Be Carbon Neutral by 2040
After weeks of negotiations, Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), and Greens head Werner Kogler presented their coalition deal on Thursday.
Although the Greens managed to secure major policies to combat climate change, Kurz also pushed through his hardline immigration policies — which might not sit well with Greens supporters.
What's in the coalition deal?
- The Greens will head four ministries, including taking on the environment and justice portfolios.
- Kurz's party will hold onto the rest of the ministries, including the interior, defense and finance ministries.
- Austria will seek to be carbon neutral by 2040, and put a price on CO2 emissions.
- By 2030, all of Austria's electricity is to be produced by renewable energy sources.
- Flying will become more expensive in a bid to make taking the train more attractive.
- Despite the tax cuts, the coalition also plans no new debt.
- There will be a "new immigration strategy," including reviving controversial plans for preventative custody for asylum-seekers deemed potentially dangerous.
- The agreement includes plans to expand a headscarf ban for girls to include those under 14-years-old.
'The Best of Both Worlds'
Kurz hailed the deal as a good compromise that would allow both parties to deliver on their core campaign promises.
"We deliberately brought together the best of both worlds, and so it is possible both for the Greens to keep their central election promises and for us," Kurz said at the joint press conference.
Kogler said that the plans would make Austria a "role model" in Europe for climate protection and represents the "reconciliation of ecology and economy."
He admitted that the more hardline immigration policies, and particularly the headscarf ban, are likely to come as a surprise for supporters of the multicultural Greens.
"This is very unusual," Kogler said in response to a question about the Greens signing off on plans for a headscarf ban. He defended the preventative custody plans, however, saying that it would only be used in isolated cases.
Germany Watching Closely
The coalition is a first for Austria and being watched very closely in Germany. The union between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats has been strained after numerous electoral losses in 2019.
The Greens have been rising in opinion polls, with support currently sitting at 21%, making them a more attractive potential coalition partner for Merkel's conservatives should the current governing coalition collapse.
German Greens co-leader Robert Habeck welcomed the coalition in Austria, but said that it doesn't necessarily mean that it would translate well to Germany's political scene.
He said that his party and the conservatives in Germany "differ greatly in key policy areas."
Historic Coalition After Scandal
The new coalition comes after a coalition between Kurz's ÖvP and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) collapsed last May over a corruption scandal, triggering elections in September.
What happens next: The deal still needs to be approved at a Greens party congress on Saturday, although the deal is expected to be approved. That puts Kurz back on track to become prime minister and resume his title as the world's youngest leader.
Reposted with permission from DW.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
- Hundreds of Botswana's Elephants Are Dying From Mysterious Cause ›
- How Botswana's Sudden Elephant Deaths Impact the Species ... ›
- In 'Conservation Disaster,' Hundreds of Botswana's Elephants Are ... ›
By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
- NYC Public Schools to Excuse Climate Strikers - EcoWatch ›
- Portuguese Youth Activists Sue 33 Countries Over Climate Crisis ... ›
- Students Rally for Fossil Fuel Divestment at Ohio State University ... ›
The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.
- Extreme Weather Suggests Future Climate Crisis Is Already Here ... ›
- Atlantic Faces Fifth 'Above-Normal' Hurricane Season in a Row ... ›