Causes of Climate Change

Human activities have long substantially influenced the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In particular, the use of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, lignite and anthracite coal), transportation, agricultural production, and changes in land use (such as the clearing of forests) are among the main causes of the increase.


In Austria 76,3 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent has been released in 2014  (Environment Agency Austria 2016). The results of the most recent greenhouse gas inventory for Austria show that emissions are in decline (Environment Agency Austria 2016).


Industry and manufacturing, transportation, energy generation, space heating and other small-scale consumption, and agriculture are responsible for around 95% of greenhouse gas emissions (see the figure below). Since 1990, with an increase of 8.4 million tons of CO2-equivalent (a 60% rise), transportation has generated the largest growth in greenhouse gases. The slight decrease in emissions of greenhouse gases in waste management, agriculture, space heating, and other small-scale consumption cannot compensate for the enormous increase in the transport sector.

© Umweltbundesamt (2013)
Sector shares of total GHG emissions 2014 and changes in emissions between 1990 and 2014 (source: Umweltbundesamt)