At the end of April 2021, the Austrian government submitted its official Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) for the use of funds from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). With an overall volume of € 4.5bn, equaling 1.2% of Austrian’s GDP (2020), the Austrian government aims to strengthen its domestic recovery package (NRP). Large parts of the RRP were already presented in last year’s governmental program (2020-2024), coinciding with the official RRP time frame. It is noteworthy that social partners and civil society organizations heavily criticized the lack of consultancy and transparency in the development process of the RRP.
The RRF package is divided into four components: green recovery, digital recovery, knowledge-based recovery and fair recovery. Mostly the measures under the green recovery component can be evaluated as having positive climate effects. Some green measures are investments into replacing traditional oil or gas-fired heating systems, the expansion and greening of the public transport system, increased quota for reusable beverage containers as well as investments into pilot projects for hydrogen- or electric-powered industrial processes. Austria’s RRP thus covers important parts of a green transition; however, it lacks creativity and additionality as specifically asked for by the European Commission. Additionally, the plan sets no specific targets or conditionalities with respect to reductions in CO2 emissions.
We find that Austria’s recovery plan (RRP) achieves a green spending share of 34%, below the EU’s 37% benchmark. No measures have a negative impact. But we find that 8% (€0.36bn) may have a positive or negative impact on the green transition depending on the implementation of the relevant measures, illustrating the importance of further scrutiny during the continued planning, review, and implementation of the recovery measures.
Our analysis covers the Recovery and Resilience Plan that was released in April 2021. This report was written by Thomas Neier and Sigrid Stagl (both Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien). We are grateful to Jacqueline Klingen, Helena Mölter (both Wuppertal Institute) and Felix Heilmann (E3G) for providing valuable inputs.
Austria’s recovery package has a strong focus on environmentally friendly public transport systems. Investments into zero-emission buses and the expansion of the railway system is accompanied by the 1-2-3 climate ticket offering nationwide affordable public transportation.
In light of its preceding big announcements of exceeding the 37% threshold of green measures, it is sobering that many of those lack the much-needed comprehensiveness and creativity necessary to achieve the national target of climate neutrality by 2040.
Measures of Austria’s RRP are strongly linked to the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) as well as the national mobility plan (Mobilitätsmasterplan 2030). Although this might stem from the fact that many measures were already in those plans, its interlinkage might enable effective alignment with national climate targets.