Heating homes with oil - consumers' choice?

‘Heizen mit Öl’ (Heating with Oil) subsidises installation of oil heating systems in Austrian homes. These are the most CO2-intensive system on the market, but this self-proclaimed “efficiency & climate initiative” supports each installation by €2,500-5,000!

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‘Heizen mit Öl’ (Heating with Oil), backed by a state-owned mineral oil corporation, subsidises installation of oil heating systems in Austrian homes. Around 5,500 new oil heating systems are subsidised every year with a budget of around €15 million per year. Between 2012 and 2016, €61 million were used to subsidise new oil heating systems. This subsidy is misleading consumers into installing the most CO2-intense heating systems by telling them they are doing something positive for the climate.

The “Heizen mit Öl” Initiative was founded by the Mineral Oil Industry in 2009 - just one year after the Austrian Government decided to phase out oil heating systems and federal states committed to end subsidies for oil heating systems. At the same time, Austria was failing to meet its climate goals under the Kyoto Protocol and had to pay around €500 million for CO2-certificates.

The dodgy funding for these polluting systems remained unclear for many years. But in the beginning of March 2018, NGO GLOBAL 2000 published research uncovering the details. Oil traders pay €10 per 1,000 liters of heat oil in a fund that serves “Heizen mit Öl” - and the biggest trader of oil in Austria is OMV, a part state-owned mineral oil corporation. After Austria adopted the landmark Paris Agreement, leading energy experts demanded a phase out of oil heating systems. In response “Heizen mit Öl” (Heating with oil) decided to increase the amount to €11 Euro per 1,000 liters and retaliated by launching a campaign using TV ads, advertisement in newspapers and slots on the radio, to attempt to clean up oil’s dirty image. It worked, and in early 2018 “Heizen mit Öl” celebrated installing the 50,000th subsidised system in the federal state of Lower Austria - despite the fact this state had announced a ban on oil heating systems in new buildings a year before.

Right now the Austrian Government is discussing a climate and energy strategy for Austria. One of the burning issues? How to phase out oil heating systems! One of the easiest ways to progress would be to end this harmful subsidy for oil heating systems.

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Credits and acknowledgements

Graphic design: Mark Bitter, BITTER design, www.markbitter.de

Web design: Olov Källgarn, Pixelengine www.pixelengine.se

Financial support: This project has been realized by the helpful support of the KR Foundation and the European Commission LIFE program

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