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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.
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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