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ENVIRONMENT

Austria challenges EU ‘green’ nuclear label in court

Austria on Friday filed a complaint with the top EU court over the bloc's decision to label nuclear power as green, the climate ministry said.

Garigliano nuclear plant, Italy
Austria has been fiercely against nuclear energy. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

The European Parliament in July approved a European Union proposal giving a sustainable finance label to investments in gas and nuclear power, sparking claims of “greenwashing” by environmental lobbyists.

Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler said Austria had filed the complaint ahead of Monday’s deadline.

“Nuclear energy and gas are neither green nor sustainable,” she said in a statement, adding she would give more details on Monday.

Austrian daily Kurier reported Friday that the complaint had been filed, adding it had little chance of success according to legal experts.

READ ALSO: Austria to add €0.25 deposit to price of cans and plastic bottles

The European Commission had defied protests from green campaigners and dissent in its own ranks to put a green label on gas and nuclear power.

It had argued that both have a role to play as cleaner power sources during the transition to a net-zero carbon future.

Gewessler had vowed Austria would file legal action against labelling nuclear energy as green, describing it as “outdated” and “too expensive” and highlighted safety concerns and uncertainty over how to deal with nuclear waste.

The Alpine nation of nine million people — which depends heavily on gas — has been fiercely anti-nuclear for decades.

An unprecedented vote by its population in 1978 prevented its only nuclear plant — meant to be the first of several — from starting operations.

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VIENNA

Vienna reveals new plan for how to move away from gas heating

Authorities in Vienna want to replace the city's 600,000 gas heating systems with greener alternatives and have presented a plan for how they will do it.

Vienna reveals new plan for how to move away from gas heating

The “Vienna Heat Plan 2024” was presented this week which outlines a concrete strategy for replacing the city’s 600,000 currently installed gas heating systems with renewable energy alternatives.

Vienna has committed to ending its reliance on fossil fuels for heating and hot water by 2040.

As part of this goal, the capital wants to replace around 600,000 gas heating systems with renewable energy alternatives. On Monday May 8th the city presented the “Vienna Heat Plan 2024”, providing a clear plan for this transition.

The plan considers all buildings in the urban area and identifies where it is possible to expanding district heating, referring to a centralised heating system which efficiently serve multiple buildings.

The goal is to make district heating completely climate-neutral by 2040. Additionally, the plan also identifies areas where alternative solutions may be necessary, reported ORF.

The plan divides areas in three categories 

The areas in Vienna have been categorised into three groups based on demand and local conditions.

The first category include areas where district heating is most suitable.

The second category refers to areas with good potential for local heating networks. These networks can accommodate smaller, localised heating systems that serve buildings located close to each other. Additionally, the third category includes areas where individual climate-neutral heating solutions are needed for single buildings or properties, ensuring necessary adjustment to specific needs of a property.

Additional divisions within these groups have been made, considering factors like existing district heating connections and the possibility of expansion. The city wants to expand the district heating network to cover 1,700 kilometres in the future, according to Vienna.at.

READ ALSO: Austria climate activist aims to take fight to Brussels

Geothermal energy planned to be used in outer districts

The areas selected for local heating networks are mainly situated in the outer districts of the city. In those areas authorities plan to use geothermal energy, heat derived from the Earth’s core. Through the use of heat pumps, the plan is to supply heat to multiple buildings simultaneously, reported ORF.

READ NEXT: Vast Vienna wastewater heat pumps showcase EU climate drive

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