Time is running out! Austria aims to be climate neutral by 2040. And by 2030, soil consumption is to be reduced from the current 11.5 hectares per day to 2.5 hectares per day. What does it take to achieve the goal? “We have to rethink. Unlimited economic growth with the aim of maximizing profits at the expense of nature is no longer up to date. That’s old thinking. That’s thinking without common sense,” says the CEO of the Austrian Hail Insurance, Dr. Kurt Weinberger, in his opening statement at the eleventh sustainability breakfast with Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler. Around 150 opinion leaders and decision-makers from business, science, politics and culture were also present.
“In times of environmental crises, young people rightly criticize this way of thinking. Unfortunately, they are heard far too little, the other forces are far too strong. One thing is clear: continuing as before is not an option. Measuring the prosperity of a society based solely on a single key figure – such as gross domestic product – is fatal. That means we have to rethink the economy. We must also include the natural capital indicator in the annual national accounts. For example: How many soils have we destroyed forever through building? How much environmentally damaging fossil energy have we burned again?” says Dr. Weinberger.
“In times like these, we are challenged more than ever to generate our own energy. This includes energy from the sun, water, wind and biomass. Every wind turbine that we set up, every gas thermal bath that we exchange is a step towards independence. This means that we all have to rethink how we will heat our homes in the future and how the electricity that comes out of our sockets will be generated. We have to get out of fossil raw materials and into renewable energies. And that as quickly as possible. Speaking of changing trains, there will also need to be a change in the question of how we will travel in the future. The point here is: do we want to continue to pollute the air with combustion engines and take away people’s space with more and more roads? Or do we switch to public transport that takes us to our destination in a relaxed and safe manner – and at the same time protects the climate, the wallet and the use of land? The topic of climate protection runs through practically all areas of life. So whether we manage to turn the tide depends not least on how good we are at pulling together,” said the climate protection minister to the group of committed opinion leaders who campaign for climate protection day after day.
In his statement to the opinion leaders present, Kurt Weinberger emphasized: “We have already made some progress with climate protection. Keyword climate ticket! We don’t need any new roads either, as we already have one of the densest road networks in Europe. But it still takes the courage to rethink the economy. However, it is not only a challenge for the whole of politics, but also for each individual company – as well as each of us in our personal mobility and consumer behavior. One thing is clear: anyone who postpones climate work will live at the expense of tomorrow. The problems we still face are urgent and existential. Despite all the interests that humanity is pursuing today, we must not forget one thing for our future and above all for the future of our children and grandchildren: the earth is only on loan to us. It is our responsibility to pass them on to our children and grandchildren in good condition!”