AUSTRIA - Environmental destruction and nuclear power for the climate?

At the end of June Austria held a "climate protection referendum", which was supported by around 380,000 signatures (from almost 6% of the people entitled to vote). Many progressive and democratic people supported this referendum in the belief that it would help protect the climate and the environment. For this reason the "Antifascist Action - Info Sheet" published an article in their newspaper on this topic. Since it concerns internationally important debates, we want to document this article in extracts here in own translation.


(...) In view of the votes, no party will afford to oppose all the demands of this petition for a referendum. But it's not only votes that are at stake, but above all solid economic interests, only this time to be enforced in "eco-dressing". So while the ruling classes will certainly use the "climate protection petition" in the near future to show how "environmentally friendly" they are, it must be shown that this petition was a great deception of all those who believed that it had a positive purpose. If the backgrounds are illuminated more exactly, the mask falls quite fast...

The "Climate Protection Referendum" was initiated and promoted by a broad alliance of supporters: the list of supporters ranged from all kinds of social democratic and green forerunner organisations, celebrities (...) to various educational associations, (...) and institutions of various churches. The " Electro-Mobility-Club Austria" (EMCÖ) was also among them. The main concern of this "club", which seems to be nothing more than a lobby organisation, is the promotion of electric mobility, especially the electric car. Electric cars are not a "new" concept, but have been promoted in Europe since the 1980s at the latest. As early as 1991, 700 electric cars were sold in Switzerland and 1,500 in Denmark (at that time mainly aimed at urban traffic). A four-year test between 1992-96 came to the following conclusion: "With the current energy mix of the power plants from which the battery power for the electric cars comes, they contribute less to summer smog and nitrogen pollution of the soil than conventional cars. But they contribute more to acid rain. The assessment of the climate is clearly negative. Electric cars consume between 50 percent (...) and 400 percent more primary energy per kilometre than comparable cars with combustion engines." (1) Electricity doesn't just come out of the power socket, it has to be generated somehow, and this often happens in a way that is very harmful to the climate and the environment. Not to mention the enormous environmental damage caused by the extraction of battery raw materials, but this is usually not discussed, as it takes place mainly in Africa and Asia. By the way, companies that have major business interests in electric cars in Europe are not least the German monopolies VW, BMW and Daimler, which have long been involved in the development of e-mobility. So the "climate protection petition for a referendum" was supported by a lobby organisation that promotes a form of mobility that is massively harmful to the environment, and in Europe particularly accommodates the interests of German monopolies.

The same "electromobility club" that is responsible for the popularization of electric cars, with its president Bernhard Kern, is also personally linked to a financial consulting firm that has, for example, the company "FutureCarbon" in its portfolio, which specializes in carbon production for high-performance materials. Carbon is considered by some as an "alternative to steel", but from a climate-ecological point of view it is at least a catastrophe. For example, the production of one kg of steel emits around 5.5 kg of CO2, whereas carbon emits around 28 kg. The everyday example of a bicycle frame shows that the production of a steel frame requires about 70 MJ of energy and 200 l of water, whereas carbon requires about 400 MJ and 1,600 l of water. One can imagine how serious it is about "climate protection" when such companies and their economic interests stand behind the supporters of the petition for a referendum. Also part of the "electromobility club" within leading positions are, for example, Johann Honeder, head of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) [in the region Upper Austria] and a building contractor, and Maximilian Falb-Forsthuber, who is technical editor at Rosenbauer International AG, the company that supplies water cannons disguised as "fire engines" to the Turkish government. (2)

(...)The Carinthian Electricity Share Company (KELAG) is also a prominent supporter of the petition for a referendum. A subsidiary of KELAG is again Kelkos, which is massively involved in power plant projects in the Balkans and has built three hydroelectric power plants in Kosovo just in recent years. For that, nature reserves have been destroyed there and some of the last wild rivers in Europe have been destroyed. A subsidiary of KELAG is again Kelkos, which is massively involved in power plant projects in the Balkans and has built three hydroelectric power plants in Kosovo alone in recent years. To this end, nature reserves have been destroyed there and some of the last wild rivers in Europe haunted. Animals and plants of these ecosystems are disappearing, the local farmers have no more water to irrigate their fields and the water supply of many surrounding villages is disrupted. The Kosovar organization "The Torch" writes: "Kelkos treats our land like a hunting ground (...) It is assumed that the extent of the destruction caused has killed almost all life in and along the river and has caused disruptions in the water supply for thousands of citizens in the villages below." Elsewhere it says: "Why is Kelkos above Kosovar law?" (3) After strong and protracted resistance by the population of affected areas against the construction of Kelkos power plant, the subsidiary of KELAG is also associated with intimidation and threats from environmental activists. (4) In view of this background, KELAG as a supporter of the petition for a referendum on climate protection almost sounds like a bad joke, so it is no longer surprising when one realizes that the German nuclear power plant groups RWE and EnBW hold shares in KELAG through intermediate companies (5). At this point it should be remembered that Greta Thunberg also spoke out in favor of nuclear energy as an alleged part of a "CO2-free energy solution" and that the billionaire climate patron Bill Gates and his companies "TerraPower" are developing nuclear reactors in the name of the "fight against CO2 emissions".

(...) Instead of really being an impulse in the fight against environmental destruction and unnatural climate change, the "climate protection petition" is nothing more than a big lie to deceive the justified hopes and interests of the masses. Behind this petition for a referendum are certain capitalists who are seeing the dawn against their competitors. In the dress of "climate protection", nuclear companies present themselves as the best alternative to fossil energy, so to say, and thus expand their business. The petition for a referendum shows that the parliamentary shell of capitalism always also has the purpose of misleading the people and making them believe that they can "have a voice" in their own interests. But hardly any of the hundreds of thousands of signatories will have had the interests of car and nuclear corporations, construction companies and power plant companies in mind. In truth, however, such forces were behind this petition for a referendum as financiers and organizers! This shows clearly that the people can only realize their interests if they organize themselves, if we defend ourselves and struggle for our interests. The fact that hundreds of thousands of people have been duped by the petition for a referendum is the result of expensive media campaigns and the failure of those "leftists" who advertised the petition for a referendum in a completely naive way, (...) with which they danced to the tune of certain capitalist interests.

(1) Winfried Wolf: Mit dem Elektroauto in die Sackgasse. (Promedia 2019) S.14/15 (2) Alle: Homepage des EMCÖ (2) und (3) Adelheid Wölfl: „Kelkos: Flussterben im Kosovo: NGOs wehren sich gegen Kelag-Tochter“, Der Standard, 7. Juli 2020 (4) Global2000: Der Strom-Filz 2020 in Österreich. Beteiligungen in Prozent.

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