ENERGY EFFICIENCY: ENVIRONMENT "OSCARS" AWARDED IN AUSTRIA.
The German solar technology company Solvis was awarded a first prize for a "clean" factory optimising insulation and natural lighting and reducing energy consumption to a minimum. Other energy requirements are exclusively covered by solar panels and a vegetable oil-fired boiler. An installation cost of Euro 10 million will be recovered in energy savings over ten years. Prizes were also awarded to a Filipino oil company which plans to supply individual solar power units to 15,000 homes in remote regions, a hydro-electric plant on the Amoya river in Colombia which channels profits towards environmental projects, and a energy saving and waste sorting project developed by a hotels association on the island of Mauritius.
First-prize winners, chosen by a panel of five international environment experts, each receive a cheque for Euro 10,000 and the "Globe Energy Awards" trophy, a 14 kilo bronze statuette of a hand holding a terrestrial globe in the shape of a light bulb.
Whilst welcoming the environmental publicity generated by the awards, Jurrien Westerhof of Greenpeace Austria criticised Austria's own domestic energy policy which, he claims, is going in "completely the wrong direction in relation to the objective set at the Kyoto Conference on climate change in 1997". Environment Minister Josef Proell and the Governor of the Province of Upper Austria, Josef Puehringer, took the opportunity to recall the damage cased in the country in Summer 2002 by the most serious floods to hit Austria for more than a century, followed by this Summer's drought. They emphasised the need to reduce consumption of fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil), the principal cause of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. "We need to be sparing of resources", said Mr Proell emphasising that "the Awards show that economy and ecology are not contradictory".
Austria, which pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 13% by 2012 compared with 1990 levels, has actually seen emissions increase by 2.7% between 1990 and 2000, according to a European Environment Agency Study. Only four European countries - Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Belgium - have performed worse in this area.