Austria's President Van der Bellen Brings in Experts on Energy and Climate Issues as Advisors

PeopleOther ♦ Published: August 31, 2022; 21:57 ♦ (Vindobona)

Ex-Verbund boss Wolfgang Anzengruber and Wifo economist Angela Köppl are volunteering their expertise to Austrian President Van der Bellen. According to the Federal President's Office, the war in Ukraine and inflation, as well as the slowly emerging energy crisis in Europe, call for expert advice on energy economics and climate issues.

Van der Bellen promised he “will monitor the situation closely and also keep an eye on the work of the government.” / Picture: © / Peter Lechner / HBF

Due to the Russian war against Ukraine, which has already lasted half a year, Austria is also paying the price for its great dependence on Russian gas supplies, which have unfortunately increased in recent years, especially in Austria.

It must be expected that Putin will continue the war and further reduce or even completely stop gas deliveries if it suits his concept. The enormous inflation in energy, food and other products poses a new economic challenge for Europe. The Federal President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen blames Russia's war and dependence on Russian natural gas. It is assumed that the situation will worsen in the fall and winter.

To prepare for this, according to Van der Bellen, Austria's energy supply must be made independent of fossil energy imports from Russia as quickly as possible. Due to the high complexity of the energy sector and the far-reaching economic consequences of the current crisis, President Alexander Van der Bellen has decided to expand his team of advisors and is relying on a top professional from the energy sector and an economist with a focus on energy and climate. Wolfgang Anzengruber, long-time CEO of Verbund AG (2009 to 2020) and Angela Köppl, economist (Senior Economist) at WIFO with a research focus on climate change and energy economics, thus complete the already existing team of advisors consisting of foreign policy, constitutional law and security experts.

New Advisors for President Van der Bellen

Anzengruber and Köppl will work on an honorary basis and provide their expertise to the Federal President in the form of regular briefings on the situation on the energy market and the situation in the industry and the economy, provide assessments of current issues and evaluate and classify proposals that are under public discussion.

Wolfgang Anzengruber is an Austrian manager and served over TEN years, from 2009 to the end of 2020, as CEO of the Austrian energy company, Verbund AG. Anzengruber studied industrial engineering - mechanical engineering at the Vienna University of Technology, graduating in 1982. He then showed success in a career in the industry.

Anzengruber stated that "the major issues of our time require cooperation at all levels and with all institutions of our republic." According to Anzengruber, however, in addition to addressing the current challenges, the most important thing is to "shape a future characterized by sustainability, justice, growth and prosperity." He said he was pleased to be able to support Van der Bellen in this and "thus contribute to the discussion of energy and economic policy issues."

Angela Köppl is an economist (Senior Economist) and has been working in WIFO's research department "Environment, Agriculture and Energy" since 1992. She has twice held the position of Deputy Head of WIFO and was responsible for scientific coordination in this capacity. She is Vice President of the Austrian Chapter of the Club of Rome, an association of experts from various disciplines from more than 30 countries, which is a non-profit organization committed to a sustainable future for humanity. As a member of the board of the Climate Change Center Austria (CCCA) in the first years after its foundation, she contributed significantly to its establishment. Key areas of her research are climate change issues and the restructuring of the energy system, economic instruments of climate policy such as eco-taxes and emissions trading, and the energy and climate policies of Austria and the EU.

Commenting on her appointment as Van der Bellen's advisor, Köppl said, "The transition of our economy to a sustainable, clean and climate-friendly energy supply is now more urgent than ever. I am pleased to be available to advise the Federal President on this."

Commenting on the expansion of his team of advisors, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen said that he takes the concerns of Austrians seriously.

The energy crisis and inflation are major burdens for citizens, according to Van der Bellen. Everything must be done so that "our economic power is not permanently damaged" and we must not allow "our population to freeze or no longer be able to afford life," said President Van der Bellen.

During the first meeting with the experts, Van der Bellen was advised on the situation of Wien Energie, which reports has gotten into financial difficulties.

Rapid relief measures for the energy supply and switching to clean, sustainable, renewable sources as soon as possible and using energy more carefully, i.e. accelerating what should have been done for climate protection reasons is extremely important. He promised Van der Bellen “will monitor the situation closely and also keep an eye on the work of the government”. The President expects "that solutions are constantly being worked on" and is very grateful that the experts Wolfgang Anzengruber and Angela Köppl will strengthen his team in this work, as Van der Bellen explained.

Presidential Chancellery of Austria