The 2022 conference of the Austrian Climate Youth Council recently took place at the Vienna Hofburg and Palais Epstein. Two BUWOG apprentices, Florian Ludwig and Julia Dorner, were in attendance and reported on their experiences with the discussion of current climate issues. The focus of the event was on environmentally friendly mobility.
On Monday, 28 February, the time had come: following coronavirus pandemic-related cancellations, the conference of the 2022 Austrian Climate Youth Council finally took place. Organised by the Austrian Federal Youth Council, the event took place at the invitation of Austrian National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka and Committee on Environment Chairman Lukas Hammer at the Hofburg and Palais Epstein in Vienna. The aim was to gather as many young people as possible from all over Austria and to invite them to peer-level discussions with one other and with politicians from the Austrian National Council. More than 60 young people from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, aged 14 to 27, responded to the call. During the three days of the event, we, Florian Ludwig and Julia Dorner, learned a considerable amount from which we can benefit in our personal everyday lives as well as in our activities at BUWOG.
Day 1: Climate Action Award
It began the first day with the invitation to the Climate Action Award ceremony. Moderator Martina Tiwald made it entertaining and often got us laughing. In his welcome address, Austrian National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka discussed both environmental protection and the current situation in Ukraine. Following inspiring speeches by Sabine Prochaska, Fiona Herzog (both representatives of the Austrian Federal Youth Council) and Lukas Hammer (member of the Austrian National Council), the award ceremony then began. Awards were presented for four impressive projects in the field of climate protection, including the Generation Talk Climate Crisis initiative and an initiative for greening public space.
Day 2: Discussions and input
The second day of the event started with a getting-to-know-you round for all participants to obtain a first impression of the motivation and reasons of each individual for wanting to address the topic of climate protection. Afterwards, we were divided into smaller groups, which enabled an intensive and productive discussion.
Florian’s group was mainly concerned with raising awareness and with government measures for averting the climate crisis and the opportunities of environmentally friendly mobility. Julia’s group dealt with a variety of perspectives on the problems pertaining to the climate crisis, such as the differences between rural and urban areas.
After the exciting discussions, we enjoyed an exclusively vegetarian or vegan lunch, where we again had the opportunity to meet people and chat about personal experiences. Afterwards, power presentations by various experts were on the agenda. We chose a climate psychologist and two activists from the Fridays for Future movement. Then we returned to our small groups and agreed on specific questions to ask the politicians the next day.
Day 3: Onward to the protest camp
On the last day of the event, 14 MPs from various parties joined the Austrian Climate Youth Council, with two MPs assigned to each group. The most important statements by the politicians for us were: “Environmental policy is policy for the future” and “Keep at us, because that’s the only way something will get done.”
In the afternoon, we went on a joint excursion to a protest camp in the Lobau on the outskirts of Vienna, where people are currently protesting the construction of a road and a tunnel. Seeing the protesters holding out there in tents, staying strong and fighting for their causes was truly impressive.
After these three intensive days, it became clear to us that efforts are being made on all sides, but that more urgently needs to be done for climate protection. Politicians, companies and private individuals all have to pull together, for only together will we be able to overcome the climate crisis.
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