The Climate and Air Quality Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (German acronym: KKL) provides independent scientific expertise regarding the status of the atmosphere and climate, the drivers and pressures changing this status, and their impacts on health and ecology that affect society. KKL follows the mission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in full awareness of its social, cultural and economic responsibility grounded on scientific quality. The commission consults with the scientific community, advises decision makers, and informs civil society on important issues relating to the natural resources air and climate and their significance for human well-being and health as well as ecosystem processes.
KL and its members take up scientific and societal challenges, addressing the needs of Austrian society with respect to changing climate and air quality. Building on existing knowledge, based on our own research and a distinct understanding of current scientific developments, we provide up-to-date information and forward-looking strategies on issues such as:
Science background: Physical and chemical conditions of the atmosphere and climate, water content, trace constituents, transport conditions and atmospheric conversion, radiative forcing and their interaction characterize our understanding of the air around us. The specific influence of mountains is relevant for the conditions and our understanding of climate dynamics in large parts of Austria. Understanding the changes of all conditions over time and the related processes from global to local scales is essential, specifically with respect to the vulnerability of the Austrian society in a changing climate.
Impacts of changing atmospheric conditions: In a planetary health approach, we address impacts of climate and air quality on humans and organisms as well as on the social and economic system. We focus on impacts on e.g., biodiversity, land use, glaciers, flash floods and landslides, and we contribute to the setting of health-guided standards and recommendations for outdoor and indoor climate and air quality.
Mitigation measures: We inform on transformative steps to change concentrations of atmospheric compounds (emission reduction and sequestration) as well as on the preconditions and means to allow and incentivize such changes. This also entails the legal requirements for their implementation, and their multiple impacts on social, ecological and economic spheres. These measures are evaluated in view of co-benefits or trade-offs between diverging aims (e.g., air pollution and climate change).
The wide range of expertise provided by its members enables KKL to span and connect particular perspectives. Integrating different priorities in a science-backed manner offers guidance on Austria’s path towards fulfilling its international obligations for 2030 and beyond. These commitments include the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as specific EU and UNECE Clean Air Targets, the WHO Air Quality Guidelines, and foremost the Paris Climate Agreement to limit climate change to “well below 2°” – whose “Nationally determined contributions” for Austria are also developed in the EU’s Climate and Energy Strategy for 2030.