GLOBAL 2000 - Friends of the Earth Austria go to court demanding a step-wise ban for selling fossil fuels until 2040

A week ago GLOBAL 2000 - Friends of the Earth Austria went to court for climate action in Austria together with Fridays for future and affected persons (Peter Fliegenschnee, retired person, Monika Jasansky, farmer), after the economic minister rejected the requested regulation. The plaintiffs demand a step-wise ban for selling fossil fuels until 2040. In case of victory in court this would mean that it would no longer be allowed to sell fossil fuels in Austria from these dates onwards:

  • for coal in heating sector until 2025
  • oil in the heating sector until 2030
  • gasoline/diesel in transport until 2035
  • fossil fuels in air transport until 2040

The legal ground is layed down in the Austrian trading regulations. The Austrian economic minister can put in place restrictions to  the trade of products if they harm health or the environment. Fossil fuels clearly undermine health and environmental conditions. Unfortunately fossil gas is not part of these trading regulations, that is why it is not included here.

Back in May this year the plaintiffs requested this regulation from the Austrian economic minister, and in August they got the negative reply. Now the Minister's decision is being appealed in court. More information in German is available here.

If the court ruling is positive, Austria will be among the countries taking the most decisive steps in the fight against climate change. It should be noted that none of the world’s major economies, including those in the G20 group, have a sufficient plan to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change. The policy-analyst group Climate Action Tracker looked at the policies of 36 countries, plus the European Union, that are responsible for 80% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. According to the analysis, only the Gambia’s climate action is compatible with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 oC. Russia and Singapore are among the nations whose policies were judged to be badly insufficient.

The suit, pending in the Austrian court, follows the successful court case by Friends of the Earth - Netherlands against the Shell oil company. In May this year, a Dutch court ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030.

Olga Nikolaevna Senova, the head of the RSEU Climate Secretariat, says: “To meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, all countries must completely abandon the use of fossil fuels by 2050. Setting a timetable for the phase-out of fossil fuels in Austria can be an example of the right approach for countries to fulfill their obligations under this agreement."