How the conservatives are blocking our green future

Helmut Melzer

Can you still remember your school days? It's been around 35 years since I was first told: "We'll run out of oil and gas in a few decades. In the future we will have to focus on alternatives,” said my teachers at the time. And even in the years that followed, the warnings were not lacking, such as these Environmental organization Global 2000 (2016): “In the meantime, Austria spends 12,8 billion euros per year on imports of oil, coal and gas. That's a lot of money that flows abroad and doesn't remain effective in Austria.” Aside from environmental protection, there is also an economic urgency to swear off fossil fuels.

Surprise, very little happened. Now the Ukraine war is showing us Europe's energy dependency. In the last few years in particular, the question arises: What went wrong? Why was this economic aspect completely negated? And, of course, whose interests were served here?

The Greens rightly rebuked the WKO these days, one displacement of CO2-pricing demands: "Once again, the ÖVP business association representatives outed themselves as lobbyists of the fossil fuel industry." The "former Putin panders" would now stand up to open what had already been decided, said Jungwirth.

"The strictest deniers of climate change in politics and economics are representatives of neoliberalism and their beneficiaries are the populists," says economist Stephan Schulmeister opponents of sustainability. The capitalist-conservative ÖVP must also be included in this. Apart from the fact that this has been slowing down climate change for years, she is now once again proclaiming hydrogen to be the fuel of the future. Genuine alternative energies continue to be neglected.

How sustainable hydrogen really is at the moment!
How sustainable hydrogen really is at the moment!

Johannes Wahlmüller from Global 2000 sees it differently: “Hydrogen is an important future technology for us, but in industry and in the long term. In the next ten years, hydrogen will not make any significant contribution to reducing CO2. Hydrogen has no place in private transport because too much energy is lost during production. If we wanted to achieve Austria's climate goals in traffic with hydrogen cars, electricity consumption would skyrocket by 30 percent."  

E-mobility: electricity or hydrogen?
E-mobility: electricity or hydrogen?

The fact is that hydrogen is currently being produced by OMV from natural gas. The suspicion is obvious: In order to maintain the existing "fossil" structure with gas stations & Co., hydrogen is preferred - for their own political clientele, contrary to economic interests.

The USA is also showing how backward conservative politics can still be these days: by law Florida bans LGBTQ from its schools. The law prohibits students and teachers from speaking in class about sexual orientation in general — saying the words gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or queer in class. A cosmopolitan preparation for life looks different. Poland takes a similar line. Even abortions of unborn children with serious deformities have been banned here since last year.

Putin, too, backed the wrong horses. While other Middle Eastern oil and gas countries have focused on tourism and energy alternatives, Russia has stuck to the military and industry, aided by gas and oil trade. In view of the climate crisis and the certain demise of fossil fuels, it is now clear that this has little prospect for the future. A realization that led to war?

I can only repeat myself: We are living in the most significant and therefore also the most exciting epoch of mankind. It will be our generation that will decisively shape the coming centuries. Without us there will probably be no (livable) future. And that doesn't just mean ecology, but rather digitization, automation, autocracy and many other hurdles of our time. All this at one time: Now! For this we need a progressive policy that looks further into the future than the next election date. A policy that represents the interests of the country and its inhabitants, and not those of the powerful and rich.

Photo / Video: Option, VCÖ, Austrian Energy Institute.

Written by Helmut Melzer

As a long-time journalist, I asked myself what would actually make sense from a journalistic point of view. You can see my answer here: Option. Showing alternatives in an idealistic way - for positive developments in our society.

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