Vienna, it is not enough!

Vienna, it is not enough!

28 Oct 2021

Austria is a democratic country with a high level of knowledge and living standards. Nevertheless, for years now the demands of environmental activists, scientists and citizens have not been heard, scientifically proven facts and reports have been ignored and the long-term quality of life in a climate-friendly environment has been threatened. We're talking about the highly controversial mega-project "Lobau-Autobahn", the construction of which would destroy parts of the Donau-Auen National Park, but also residential areas.

Demonstration gegen die Lobau-Autobahn
Picture: System Change, not Climate Change!
Besetzter Bagger in der "Wüste"
Picture: System Change, not Climate Change!

The debate has been going on for years whether or not and how those plans should be implemented. There are strong protests against it, hundreds of environmental organizations, initiatives and citizens completely reject it. Thousands of people are marching on the streets of Vienna to raise the visibility of this injustice towards the nature and future generations.

With an entrenched mindset from the last century, politically legitimized parties finally push through the launch of the construction works. In response, environmental activists are vigorously taking the very last and most successful step to stop it: physically resisting construction, occupying construction sites and on-site excavators.

Something is wrong within the democracy being lived here if political representatives do not want to implement the will of the citizens and non-legitimized persons do it instead of them - but indeed, illegally. While decision-makers in Vienna's City Hall proudly and prominently present half-truths to the public about how they are doing the best for our great city, the nameless fighters for justice of our and future generations are mostly disregarded. Yet they are the ones who prioritize the protection of our environment and take into account the latest scientific findings. They should be recognized as the true heroines and heros of our time and their names should be hailed in the media. They are the ones who personally engage for the prosperity of all of us - as citizens of this city. They are the ones who spend months in tents on the construction sites, giving up life comfort and risking being confronted by the police or construction companies.

One of the camps near the Hausfeldstraße subway station is special. The environment there resembles a small urban desert. This is what our planet would look like if we don't act now: gravel as far as the eye can see, lifeless nature, dead earth. That's all now and that's all there will be. Except, of course, roads, cars, noise and air pollutants. It is thus justified that this camp is officially called the "desert”. To set a sign against this, not only the diggers were occupied here, but also trees and vegetable gardens were planted by the activists. When you are there, you immediately get the feeling of what awaits us all if we don't stop it now.

Wüste

It cannot be that our future is shaped only by concrete, roads, cars, air emissions and noise instead of trees, plants, bees and fresh air. It cannot be that for a livable city such as Vienna there are no better alternatives for transportation system planning. The Lobau Highway is not only outdated in terms of its traffic planning, also taxpayers' money is being spent in sums that could be used to upgrade the entire city with bicycle lanes. And the Lobau Highway is definitely not a fit for the future. It sends the wrong signal. Just like the politicians who decided in favor of it. Despite their efforts to find solutions to this conflict through public debate, there is a lack of prudence and insight. And time is running out.

That's why it's simply not enough!

We need innovative solutions for urban planning. For example, proven successful concepts from other countries can be used and desirable alternatives can be found by involving scientists and citizens. In view of current challenges in the climate crisis and the associated need for a change towards a green economy, CO2-neutral mobility as well as the steadily growing population, there is a need for urban planning that is oriented towards the long term and in line with climate goals. The negative consequences of the current transport policy in the case of the Lobau Highway mainly affect the urban areas in the north-east of Vienna, in the 22nd district Donaustadt, as well as the border areas in Lower Austria such as Groß-Enzersdorf. Donaustadt is the largest district in Vienna and has been characterized for years by a rapid increase in population and thus also an increasing number of residential buildings. Through the incumbent parties the acute need for innovative spatial planning, transport and housing policy in this district is not met. For this reason, we at Volt Vienna want to address this issue and elaborate progressive and pragmatic solutions that take into account the state of the art of science, European best practices and the voices of the population. The issue affects both the local political level and decisions that need to be made at the state and federal level, and combines the thematic areas of environmental, transport and housing policy. Local politics directly affects people's lives and democracy can be better experienced at the local level. For Volt as a party, the local level also plays an essential role, because this is where we meet in person and forge bonds in local communities. The debate about the Lobau Highway primarily affects Vienna and the surrounding area directly, but will also play a decisive role for politics in other regions inside and outside Austria in the sense of setting an example. We are facing a turning point with international significance for the achievement of the EU climate targets, which can be triggered in Vienna. 

Therefore, we also want to make our contribution to the decision-making process, so that a fact-based democracy can be lived. We want to prevent the elected political representatives from realizing the biggest wrong decision in Vienna's urban planning. For this we support the Lobau Camps and the activists on site with public relations and fundraising campaigns and also loudly demand the construction stop!

Ina Dimitrieva
Citizen Empowerment @Volt Europa

Background information:
For years, politicians and the public in Austria have been concerned with the planned mega project to build a new highway and tunnel through the Lobau, part of the Donau-Auen National Park, on the outskirts of Vienna. The project is very controversial because the expected benefits for urban development, such as traffic relief, calmed town centers or creation of jobs and housing, are associated with very high environmental, social and financial costs and these "benefits" are very questionable from a scientific point of view. For this reason, there are numerous organizations such as Greenpeace, FFF, Extinction Rebellion, System Change Not Climate Change, the Youth Council, as well as transportation planners and scientists who explicitly oppose the approval and implementation of this project.

More information can be found at #lobaubleibt or on the social media pages of the above mentioned organizations.