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Anger over 'waste' in Austria as even the dead are sent Є500 climate payout

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By Chris Harris with AFP
Students march as part of the Fridays for Future climate movement's initiatives in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021
Students march as part of the Fridays for Future climate movement's initiatives in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021   -   Copyright  Credit: AP Photo   -  

Thousands of dead people in Austria have been sent a government payout aimed at encouraging people to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The payouts are being financed from the proceeds of a new carbon tax that makes transport and heating more expensive if it is unfriendly towards the environment.

The tax -- which sees Austrians charged Є30 per tonne of CO2 created -- is aimed at incentivising people to make greener decisions.

But the financial aid -- Є500 per adult and Є250 for a child -- is being paid to everyone still on the tax register even if there are dead, the government acknowledged.

The bonus is inherited by the heirs of the deceased, some of whom have gone to the Austrian press surprised that Vienna has not tightened this apparent loophole. 

This oddity is fueling a heated debate in Austria, a prosperous country in central Europe currently implementing ambitious tax reforms to fight against global warming.

An opposition party, the New Austria and Liberal Forum, called it "a waste of taxpayers' money, which lands in the pockets of people not only with high incomes but also of the dead". 

"Every person who has lived in Austria for 183 days this year is entitled to the climate bonus," a spokeswoman for Austria's environment minister told Euronews. "This entitlement does not expire if the person concerned dies in the period between the cut-off date and the payment. 

"In this case, the climate bonus is – like every other income of this person - transferred directly to the inheritance. This is administered by a notary until the inheritance is inherited."

In Austria, the unprecedented coalition between environmentalists and conservatives, in place since January 2020, is regularly tested by the Greens' desire to stay the course of the energy transition, despite a tense economic context.

At their instigation, Austria gave up on expanding its motorway network at the end of December. It is investing heavily in railways and wants to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2040.