Austria is falling short of its targets for reducing CO2 emissions, with the transportation sector one of the main culprits. So transport policy is a key lever for accelerating the drop in the nation’s carbon footprint. But for this to happen, a joined-up transport programme is needed. And it is precisely this topic that Florian Teurezbacher, research assistant at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, focused on in his thesis. In his examination of a trade-off between bans and incentives under two scenarios, he weighed up the 1-2-3-Österreich rail ticket against a diesel-vehicle ban in Vienna. Florian recently won a research grant for his PhD project under the 2019 Science Call issued by the NFB.
What research projects are you currently working on at IMC Krems?
In June I concluded the General Balance Model project at IMC Krems under project leader Prof. Alina Schoenberg. This involved creating a model for regional economic analysis that looked at value added from different industries in the various provinces – it goes without saying that Lower Austria was the primary focus of our interest. In line with the original project, the follow-up study MRIOst (Multi-Regional Input-Output-Model for the Eastern Region) forms the basis of my thesis and research work.
What is the MRIOst project about specifically?
It’s about the economic consequences of transport regulation measures in eastern Austria. From a methodological perspective, the main thrust of the work is on generating a multi-regional input-output model for the eastern part of Austria. This model is designed to monitor the effects of two specific policies on the region: one regulatory measure, a ban on diesel vehicles; and one incentive measure, the 1-2-3-Österreich ticket.
What contribution does your thesis make to the current 1-2-3-Österreich ticket?
In some areas, the ticket represents a major change in terms of affordability, as well as – and this really shouldn’t be underestimated – a major simplification of the rail tariff structure. The assumption that this pricing model will have an direct impact on demand is absolutely justified. And it’s all about this effect: what are the environmental and economic consequences of switching from private cars to public transport? The direct effects are mostly obvious: transport providers benefit from rising passenger numbers, but on the flip side, car dealers and filling stations lose out due to the drop in road travel, or because families start to question the need for a second vehicle. However, the indirect and induced impacts of substantial interventions like this are less trivial. Sticking with car dealers for a moment: they are often key employers in smaller communities. If sales decline, the level of investment tails off and fewer people are employed. In turn, lower headcounts translate into fewer potential customers for the local bakery or restaurant. The cumulative effect of all these small changes is often every bit as significant as the more obvious ones. But looking at it from another angle, we could also see it in a positive light – “multiplier effects” being the watchword here.
Why do you think that your thesis was chosen by the NFB Science Call?
To help support the next generation of researchers and strengthen Lower Austria’s academic potential, the 2019 Science Call is promoting the employment of outstanding PhD candidates in the field of basic and translational research. In particular, doctoral theses covering topics outlined in the Lower Austrian FTI program receive funding. The importance of climate change has not diminished even in light of the dramatic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although climate change is getting slightly less attention, the subject remains as topical as ever and, in my opinion, it is imperative that we deal with it.
What makes your project so unique?
Transport planning is extremely important for the region itself – after all, 26% of Lower Austrian workers commute to Vienna. And on top of that, the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us that we still have a long way to go. Even huge shifts in behaviour haven’t had the impact that people might have hoped for. During the first peak of the pandemic in April, global CO2 emissions fell by 17%, while travel dropped 40% due to working-from-home restrictions. But initial calculations estimate a decline of between 4.2% and 7.5% for 2020 overall, which isn’t all that much given the massive restrictions on public and private life.
About Florian Teurezbacher
Florian Teurezbacher, MSc (WU) is a research assistant at the Institute of International Business in IMC Krems’ Department of Business. He is currently working on research projects focused on regional input-output modelling, which forms the basis of his doctoral thesis. Florian studied economics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and politics at the University of Vienna. He started work on his thesis at the Institute of Organizational Communication at the Bundeswehr University Munich’s Department of Business Administration in autumn 2019. He has lived in Weyer in Upper Austria for 29 years.