Protests to protest Europe’s low CO2 emission targets have turned violent in Austria’s capital.
Police say more than 2,000 people marched in Vienna demanding tougher national and European Union targets on greenhouse gas emissions, while only around 400 officers were on hand. Protesters say the COVID rules will do little to cut air pollution and will lead to more energy-intensive, less efficient industries.
The storm came at the culmination of a day-long protest in Vienna, where activists from environmentalist group Alternative for Youth held a rally and banner unfurled, and hundreds more participated in other demonstrations.
The group used its hashtag — #COGIDfail — to generate debate over COVID and the cost of joining a club that many argue is more concerned with its own advancement than public health.
Police arrested eight people as some protesters smashed windows and pelted cars with eggs. Video shows police responding with water cannons in front of office towers. About 5,000 officers are deployed to protect the authorities, the Austrian federal police said in a statement on its website.
A police officer was wounded by an anarchist who threw a firebomb and a cop was stabbed in the eye, broadcaster ORF reported. Many protesters say the injuries weren’t serious and were treated with mouth swabs and pepper spray.
Austria’s government plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2030, which is slightly less ambitious than the European Union’s goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2030.
But Gabor Nagy, head of Austria’s energy agency said that “in the struggle against climate change, every step forward counts” and he called for national and EU action to combat carbon dioxide emissions.
Austria’s minority conservative government, which supports the COVID rules, could be weakened in a general election due in September because of growing environmental concerns that have helped the anti-immigrant, populist right-wing Freedom Party rise in the polls.