Leonore Gewessler die oesterreichische Klimaministerin Leonore Gewessler zu Besuch in Berlin in der oesterreichischen Botschaft in der Stauffenbergstrassen 1 in Berlin Tiergarten. Foto: Doris Spiekermann-Klaas

I’m not a heavy showerer. I take a short shower – but not cold.

Germany and Austria face similar challenges, but there are differences. Terawatt hour by terawatt hour we have to get out of the Russian dependency. This is a tour de force for which we need everyone on board. Saving energy is a central pillar. Unlike in Germany, we have hardly any gas requirements for electricity production in the summer because of the renewable energies. We will start our energy saving campaign in autumn when the heating season starts, because that is when we will have the greatest impact in private homes.

Saving energy is always smart, so we protect the climate and the wallet. In May, our consumption fell by ten percent compared to the previous year. There are many people in Austria who are already saving energy because of the high prices. These people can’t help it and I don’t want to continue to ask them to give up. But there are also people who can make their contribution.

In terms of energy policy, we aligned ourselves to the east for 30 years, that was a mistake. Our industry has benefited from the cheap gas prices, but we have placed ourselves in a painful dependency, contract after contract. Now we have to diversify our gas suppliers in the short term, but above all we have to become independent and expand renewable energies.

The extension of the contract in 2018 was not a smart idea even then. We have a Paris climate agreement, Austria wants to cover 100 percent of its electricity needs with renewables by 2030. We’re not the only country that has long-term contracts. This needs a European discussion and solution.

We will only master this situation if we show solidarity. Austria is dependent on pipeline capacities so that we can be supplied with gas via other countries. We have large storage facilities for this, while other countries have none at all, they are dependent on us. We are currently negotiating a departmental agreement with Germany that also deals with the storage facility in Haidach, which is also used by Germany.

We created a legal regulation in parliamentary record time. Now we will start filling as soon as possible, but we are in a state of law. I understand the concern, we share it, which is why we introduced this law.

The Commission has announced this and I will continue to demand it. Words must finally be followed by deeds. We should act together so as not to raise each other’s prices. We need more speed.

The question of gas transmission is important to us because two Austrian federal states are supplied entirely via the German grid. Robert Habeck and I issued a statement on this last week. This declaration also means that we invite Austrian companies to share in the capacities of the German terminals.

This is a rational issue, not an emotional one. We have better, faster, safer and cheaper alternatives. That’s why I’m glad that the nuclear phase-out in Germany is as it has always been. The future of energy lies with renewables because it’s smarter in every way.

It has been prepared for a long time that the three reactors will be taken off the grid. Like me, Robert Habeck is currently having to make difficult decisions in terms of security of supply. But it is also true that this question only arises because Bavaria in particular has done far too little in expanding renewables in the last ten years.

I am in contact with the bulk consumers who would be the first to be affected by an energy control measure. We need to make sure homes stay warm, sheltered social services like hospitals stay operational, and the power supply doesn’t collapse. There could be interference in the industry. It is then about jobs and economic developments, which is why we collected data and further developed existing emergency plans. In a first phase, we will stay with the market, companies can trade gas with each other, only in the second step does government intervention come into play. But Parliament has a say in that.

The German government has been very clear in all discussions at European level and found that the nuclear energy delegated act is not a good idea. We have announced that we will file a lawsuit and we are now doing so.

The climate ticket is a success story. We expected 100,000 customers and are now at 170,000 in the first year, which exceeded our expectations.

There are also people who used to take the train regularly, but not only. This is evidenced by the ticket being far more successful at the federal level than we expected. There is also a regional ticket for each individual federal state that works according to the same principle. We know where a particularly large number of climate tickets were sold or how many under-26s or older people use the offer. Their specific motives and how mobility behavior has changed is being surveyed with accompanying research.

People are catching up on travel and using the train, which in itself is great. On some days, however, there are unfortunately overcrowded wagons. There is a lot going on, for example, on Fridays or before a longer weekend. We have responded with booster trains, additional information on the platforms, or advise people to reserve a seat on busy travel days. In addition, we want to double capacity by 2040 and will invest more than four billion euros in new trains in the coming years.

Traffic is our problem child when it comes to climate protection, we are like many other countries. We support the ticket with public funds and invest 18.2 billion in the train network over the next six years. More trains on better infrastructure, as easily accessible as possible, then we can also achieve the mobility turnaround.

I took over a system in Austria that had been well invested in for many years and that we are now massively expanding. That certainly distinguishes Austria. But also in Germany you travel in modern and fast trains, only in the Deutsches Eck the internet connection is gone, I have to read there.

Yes, Vienna is the city in the EU with the most night train connections. So far I’ve been able to open a new route every year: Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris – we’re continuing on this path. The ÖBB are in the process of procuring new sleeping cars. You will then also be able to use it in Germany.