All aboard: Austrian minister prepares for climate negotiations

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – Unlike some of her European colleagues, Leonore Gewessler arrived at the United Nations climate conference with a clear conscience.

The 27-hour sleeper train journey from Vienna to Brussels and then to Glasgow, Scotland spared Austria’s climate minister the kind of criticism many VIPs have faced for flying to a conference dedicated to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Whenever possible, I try to choose the climate-friendly option,” said Gewessler, whose portfolio also includes transportation.

Since taking office last year, the Green Party politician has been pushing to revive Europe’s once-extensive night train network which has been sharply cut due to competition from budget airlines .

Gewessler said on Monday that she took advantage of her stopover in Brussels to meet other European officials and that she spent the remainder of the 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) trip preparing for the climate talks that are reaching their peak. final phase this week.

“Trains and night trains are the future of short and medium-distance travel in Europe,” she said.

Gewessler also recently launched a nationwide ‘climate ticket’ that allows Austrians to travel the Alpine nation length and width on any form of public transport for 1,095 euros ($ 1,269) per year – or 3 euros ($ 3.50) per day.

Almost 130,000 people have bought a climate ticket in recent weeks, exceeding the government’s best expectations.

Gewessler said deciding how they want to travel is each person’s personal choice.

“But I became a politician in order to make it easier for people in our society to move around in a climate-friendly way,” she said.

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