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“Austria is turning into a political gravedigger”

“Austria is turning into a political gravedigger”

In one An “open letter” initiated by WWF Austria On Monday, about 170 scientists addressed state governors to demand an end to the blockade imposed by the federal states on Austria's approval of the project. EU Revitalization Act. “Otherwise, Austria, of all places, risks becoming the political culprit of an idealistic approach that represents an EU-wide response to the coupled climate and biodiversity crises,” the report says.

The planned EU law calls for the reforestation of more forests, the rewetting of swamps, and the restoration of rivers to their natural state. The restructuring law suffered a severe setback at the end of March when a vote among the 27 EU ambassadors on the long-planned initiative was canceled at short notice. This meant that the planned approval of the law by the EU Council of Environment Ministers was off the table for the time being.

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An EU diplomat said at the time that an additional country's vote was still missing for a qualified majority. In any case, Austria must abstain from voting due to a decision taken by the federal states. This is where the Open Letter to state governors comes in: “On the occasion of the intensified negotiations on the EU Nature Restoration Law (NRL), we would like to use this letter to draw attention to its outstanding importance for EU countries.” Austria and Europe At the same time, we personally ask the governors of the nine states to work for a positive vote from Austria and pave the way for the federal government to vote yes in the Council.”

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“The most pressing tasks of the coming decades”

It was signed by, among others, ecologist Franz Issel, political scientist Alice Vadrot, environmental physician Hans Peter Hutter, environmental historian Verena Winewarter, and former head of the Secretariat of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Renate. Christ points out that from a scientific perspective, “improving and restoring damaged ecosystems is one of the most urgent tasks in the coming decades.” The Restore Nature Act “constitutes a unique opportunity for the entire European Union because it increases biodiversity, supports the fight against rapid climate change and its consequences and, last but not least, secures our food supply in the long term.”

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Due to its “comprehensive impact”, the “National Reconstruction Plan” can serve as “a kind of comprehensive solution” and, in addition to food security, can also, for example, “protect settlement areas and agricultural lands from floods because they will get to the root of many problems.” “, according to the researchers, they also indicate that many protected areas across Europe are in poor condition. In Austria, “more than half of the rivers” fail to meet criteria for good environmental status, and high land consumption as well as “habitat fragmentation, destruction and pollution” are putting severe pressure on nature.

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Austria “can bring about change”

Scientists and WWF dispute the argument put forward by Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) that the EU Revitalization Act does not sufficiently take into account the specific characteristics of individual countries: the current proposal “contains binding targets and deadlines, but at the same time” leaves time Individual “We believe that the EU Member States have the necessary freedom to achieve these goals, which also takes into account the different requirements of the regions and federal states.”

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The recently reached settlement removed many points of previous criticism. Accordingly, state governors should reconsider their current position, the researchers write. Austria is “one of the few countries capable of bringing about change, because the necessary quorum in the Council of Environment Ministers has only just been achieved.” By changing course, the federal state's leaders could “write the history of European nature conservation” and “strengthen Austria's reputation in the world.”