Austria comes in above the OECD average in many environmental areas. Austria’s trailblazing role in organic farming and renewable energy was singled out for particular praise.
The latest environmental performance review from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) gives Austria a positive evaluation in most areas. Around 28% of the land area is under some form of environmental protection, the quality of the drinking water is among the best in the world and the waste management system is one of the most effective in international comparisons. With 19% of agricultural area dedicated to organic farming, Austria has the highest share in the EU. With regard to renewable energy, the share of renewables in the primary energy supply is three times as high as the OECD average.
Environmental goods and services are now playing an even more important role in the Austrian economy than key sectors such as tourism and construction. Revenues generated by ecological goods and services amounted to EUR 33 billion in 2011 – equivalent to 10.8% of GDP. Around 5% of the workforce, or 170,000 people, work in the environmental sector, predominantly in the fields of renewable energy, water and land conservation, and energy efficiency.
The “Environmental Performance Review 2013” does, however, also highlight the challenges in certain sectors. One main area for improvement pinpointed by the report is the need to reduce greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide levels. The authors also call for coordination of the environmental and labour market policies to further optimise the potential for “green jobs” in Austria.