Austria faces EU complaint for inadequate building renovation plan

2 November 2020

Friends of the Earth Austria/GLOBAL 2000 have filed an EU complaint against their government today for an inadequate and illegal plan on building renovations and energy efficiency. Austria’s long-term renovation strategy is inadequate, harms energy poverty and carbon reduction efforts, says the group.

EU minimum standards for buildings must also apply in Austria so that energy efficient renovation and climate-friendly buildings can create thousands of jobs.

GLOBAL 2000 together with ÖKOBÜRO have filed the complaint with the EU Commission, which could eventually see Austria challenged in the European Court of Justice. instead of unleashing the potential of building renovation in Austria, the existing Long Term Renovation Strategy presented to the EU violates EU law, the groups say.

Johannes Wahlmüller, climate and energy campaigner For GLOBAL 2000 said:

"The strategy the Austrian government presented is not compatible with the Austrian integrated National Energy and Climate Plan and even fails to meet the minimum requirements of the EU-building directive. Since political decision makers have failed to react, we are now making a formal complaint to the EU Commission."

Martha Myers, energy efficiency and energy poverty campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"Austria's lax strategy on building renovations shows irresponsible inaction on the climate crisis and alleviating energy poverty - and it is in violation of EU law - so it's only right Friends of the Earth Austria/Global 2000 is holding their government to account. It is a clear reminder to all member states that long term renovation strategies cannot be ignored, must meet EU requirements, and they must pioneer change to help the 34 million Europeans living in energy poverty.”

EU minimum standards in climate protection must also apply in Austria

The EU complaint filed today by GLOBAL 2000 and ÖKOBÜRO is a first step towards infringement proceedings and is intended to ensure that EU minimum standards for climate protection are respected in Austria. Much more green gas is included in the roadmap, than is actually available. It is assumed that around three times as much "green gas" would be available than is actually included in the Austrian integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for the building sector. Correcting for this error, the Long Term Renovation Strategy can only achieve a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 77 percent. This clearly falls short of the EU minimum bar and Austria remains well below its overall potential by far.

Further, the strategy is incompatible with the current Austrian National Energy and Climate Plan, which has the target of a complete phase-out of fossil fuels and net zero emissions by 2050. Studies show actually that Austria could achieve a full decarbonisation in the building sector by that time. This shows that the actual LTRS is not only violating EU-law, but also falls short of the potential Austria has.

In addition, there was no public participation in the development of the strategy, although this is explicitly required by the EU-building directive.

Gregor Schamschula, environmental lawyer at ÖKOBÜRO said:

“The GLOBAL 2000 and ÖKOBÜRO complaint shows a clear violation of Union law. It is now the turn of the EU Commission to review Austria's climate strategy and demand stricter measures. "