Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #52: New in 2022 for the Eco-Minded in Austria  

January6, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
The New Year is bringing many exciting - and positive - news for those caring for the environment here in Austria. Most of these news are buried or hidden in information that has to do with taxes or somewhat abstract sounding rules and regulations. This blog digs a little bit into some of the regulatory changes that will come along in the coming year - both to help us understand what’s actually going on, and to see what it may mean for each of us here in Vienna.!
Austria’s big Eco-Social Tax Reform has come into effect on January 1st, 2022.  Throughout this year and thereafter, the Reform will introduce both general tax cuts for firms and individuals and, at the same time, it will levy new taxes on activities and items that come with a heavy CO2 footprint. One of the big shifts is that the Tax Reform introduces carbon pricing: Similar to Germany’s carbon pricing system, fixed prices will be introduced on an increasing scale, throughout 2025; thereafter carbon prices will be shaped by the European Carbon Market. For those of us living in Austria, this means that services and products involving a carbon footprint will get slowly more expensive: Petrol, the Austrian newspapers tell us, may go up by 9 cent per liter by the summer; Diesel and heating fuel even a bit more. Plus, there will be further increases in some of the taxes and insurances for cars. There are also changes in taxes and fees specifically for firms with a heavy carbon footprint; those of you interested may want to dig deeper into the legislation
Much of what the Tax Reform brings will make life a bit more expensive for many - at a time when COVID related hardships and inflation are already putting a burden on the country. Therefore, as a buffer, the Tax Reform brings a number of ways to make things easier. Firstly. the Government will introduce a Klima Bonus - a fixed amount of cash-per-person that everyone is to receive sometime after July this year; the format and amount are yet to be announced. Also, there will be subsidies for switching to new clean(er) heating systems - for example up to 7,500 euros for a heating exchange (based on information that I could find) - plus an option to deduct much of the non-subsidized cost from your taxes over the coming years. The Reform brings also extra options for low-income households to help switching their heating systems. And for those thinking of purchasing an electric car, there will be continued financial support - both for the car and the electric fueling station that you might want to install by your house.

Foto: In 2022, parking in Vienna will get tougher for those who commute into town: Practically everywhere parking will be limited to two hours at a time - unless you are a resident and have purchased a ParkPickerl (monthy Parking Ticket exclusively for residents).

The city of Vienna is doing their bit, too. The big goal this year is to begin reducing the number of people commuting into town with their car by half until 2030 - from 200,000 to 100,000. In order to achieve this, as of March this year, all parking in the streets of districts 1-9 will be organized in Kurzparkzonen or Short-Term Parking, Monday through Friday, 9am-10pm. Whoever parks their car will be limited to two hours at a time and be required to pay a parking fee. Only actual residents of Vienna are exempt - and that only if they have purchased a Park Pickerl or Parking Ticket for 10 Euros a month. Similar measures will be applied in nine of the districts outside of the Gürtel. This will make life for those of us using a car to get around more expensive and more tedious, but at the same time there will be new facilities for park&ride along the respective end-stations of many of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn routes, including in Leitha, Baden and Wiener Neustadt. There are of course options to pay for a place in a garage - or one could seriously begin thinking about switching to car-sharing. 
Why is all this a good thing? The simple view: Higher prices for high carbon-intensive products and services should get us to buy ur use these things less. And there is a pathway for what we should do instead: Exchange our old heating systems for new systems that use less fuel. And switch from using our cars to public transport or bicycles. Now, our survey last year told us that over half of the Christ Church community does not even have or use a car - but the news are still good for us.  Wiener Linien will introduce more and more frequent services in 2022. And, most exciting for me, personally: They will put 3000 new WienMobil Bikes on the road. This new Bikesharing system will not only bring many more stations where to find or leave your bike - but it will also involve bikes that feature 7-gears and can be located and brought back to physical as well as digital stations.
So a lot of switching and changing is in the air for 2022. Let’s make the most of it!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Blog #51: Speaking Truth to Power  

December 30, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
He chose a Sunday to leave us: Desmond Tutu, Anglican priest and Archbishop emeritus, uncompromising fighter against apartheid, activist fighting for social justice in its many realms, Nobel-prize winner, husband, father, grandfather, as charming as he was morally uncompromising, died on December 26 at the age of 90. Honoring him, I read many obituaries over the past days that paid tribute to him, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s, the BBC’s, the Guardian’s, the Washington Post’s, the South African TimesLIVE’s,  the South African Business Day’s. None of them mentioned Tutu’s fight against climate change, and how he is - was - challenging all of us to take an active stance against the behaviors and politics of climate change. Yet, only last February, our then intern, Rosie Evans, had featured Archbishop Tutu in this Blog as one of the foresightful church leaders calling on Christians to change the tides on Climate change. In paying tribute to his life, we would like to use today’s Blog to share three key elements of his teaching that you might find illuminating and inspirational in regard to climate change and the environment!
Adaptation apartheid is how Archbishop Tutu had described the situation already in 2007: Climate change was - and still is - hitting disproportionately the poor and those in the Global South. Those who can adapt more easily are the countries and people living in the Global North, the very same whose industrial development had actually caused the changing climate in the first place, an ethical dilemma often described as climate (in)justice. No wonder that such language would come from Tutu - someone who called environmental destruction the human rights challenges of our time. Two weeks ago, Patrick had circulated an invitation to an online lecture about his life - The Gospel according to Mpilo Desmond Tutu. Regrettably I missed it - but I am sure it would have told us about the ethics of justice and forgiveness so fundamental to his teaching. 
Divesting from fossil fuels was a focus for Tutu’s climate campaigns. Just as he did during apartheid years, he challenged the financial system - those who invested and those who benefited from these investmens - to divest from the perpetrators of climate change. Back in 2014, he went public with an anti-apartheid style call for a boycott of the fossil fuel industry.  “We live in a World dominated by greed”, he noted at the time. “We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth.  It is clear [the companies] are not simply going to give up; they stand to make too much money”.  In 2019, he wrote an OpEd in the Financial Times, referencing the 1,00 institutions who had by then divested $11tn from the sector and invested in renewable energy, challenging others to do so. Only with everyone’s participation would the world push itself to the tipping point from which one clean energy would be cheap enough that fossil fuels could be outlawed. “Apartheid [was] a global enemy”, Tutu wrote; “now it is climate change’s turn”.
Speaking truth to power was perhaps one of the most defining characteristic of Archbishop Tutu’s approach to life.  It was also the title of the 2021 Desmond Tutu Annual Peace Lecture - offered jointly by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Graca Machel, Mary Robinson and Thuli Madonsela. The Annual Peace Lectures, held on or around Tutu’s birthday in October each year for the past 11 years, have become an important platform for leadership messages on the future of humanity. This particular set of four lectures, in October 20221, was very moving. For this Blog, I chose to quote from Mary Robinson, mostly because she also spoke directly to and about Archbishop Tutu. Demanding climate justice cannot be separated, she said, from wider struggles to end exclusion, discrimination and injustice. And while it’s easy to be disheartened, she recounted a moment when, while traveling in New York with the then Archbishop, he was chastised for being an optimist. His answer, said Mary Robinson, was: “Oh, no, I’m not an optimist. I’m a prisoner of hope.”  Reflecting on this statement, she spoke about the human qualities needed going forward. Navigating our collective path through the challenges ahead would take human qualities of grace, faith and love “so wonderfully embodied by Arch". 
In honoring the Archbishop, activist for peace and justice throughout his life, what better thing to do than to reflect on these qualities, and on his acts and commitments. “Real power lies not with those with the biggest bombs or bank accounts”, he wrote in the FT in 2019. “it resides in the people who elect them to power, invest in their schemes and tolerate their trampling on the rights of others. We must use this power wisely!"
RIP, Archbishop Tutu. You are right: There is a lot for us to do, as we go into 2022 this week!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Blog #50: Christmas for CreationKeepers - Places of Hope!  

December 23, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Christmas is the feast of love and hope, encouraging us to walk in the light of Christ during moments of spiritual darkness. Light is much needed, I find. Across Europe we seem to be drowning again in bad news on skyrocketing Corona infection rates, overflowing hospitals and lock-downs. Elsewhere, the news seem to not be much better; inflation in Turkey, natural disasters in the US, fears in the Ukraine, and the list goes on. Even my BBC morning fix, the Global News podcast, announced this morning that they’d have a “good news special” on the 25th, seemingly finding it necessary to single out moments that show us rays of hope. Also amongst those of us caring for God’s Creation, the list of defeats and losses seems to be dominating conversations, and it’s easy to go into the Christmas days with a feeling of doom and gloom!
This week, though, I saw many rays of love and hope when taking a trip through local history as I visited the exhibition Danube. A journey into the past. It’s a small exhibition - set right in the middle of one of my favorite museums, the State Hall (Prunksaal) of the Austrian National Library. It tells the story of a magnificent part of local nature - the mighty River Danube - and how people interacted with her over the centuries. Mostly an untamed natural space, the Danube was both friend and foe, offering water to drink, fish to eat, and opportunities for transport, but also threatening livelihoods through dangerous floods and currents. Over the centuries, man found many ways to tame the river, turning the Danube into a waterway that was both safer to ship and less prone to unmanageable floods. And just in case you were wondering why that mattered: It turns out that Vienna alone has seen 450 floods, both smaller and larger ones, in the past 1000 years. That means we have, on average, nearly every other year a flood to deal with here. 
Where is the good environmental news, you might ask? Well, one of the exhibits in the Museum documents what was at the time a monumental disagreement between the city’s and the country’s leadership on one side and those in the environmental movement on the other: The planned construction of a major hydropower plant in Hainburg, about an hour south of Vienna. It was supposed to bring jobs and low-carbon energy - but there was also a serious downside to consider as it would involve the destruction of a major and unique habitat, the Donau Au. The disagreements lasted for years and culminated in December 1984 when construction was about to begin. About 8000 protesters had come for a demonstration and many decided spontaneously to stay. They wanted to disturb and slow down the bush clearing and construction work through peaceful passive resistance. Many stayed for days, day after day, night after night, in the bitter cold and snow. When eventually police were asked to remove them, pictures of peaceful  protesters being carried away by police - sometimes with force - created a major national uproar, with 40,000 demonstrating in Vienna’s streets on December 21st, 1984. The subsequent canceling of the construction, and the eventual preservation of the area as a National Park, are directly attributed to these days of peaceful protest. In short: The Hainburg protests marked a complete turning-point for Austrian politics and the role of the environment in political decision-making. The exhibit in the Museum tells the story briefly but beautifully.

Foto: A picture from Friedrich Hundertwasser, inspired by the Hainburg protests, as shown at the Exhibition in the Museum

Today, the DonauAuen area is a National Park and a unique space for wildlife and people; it protects the last remaining major wetland environment in Central Europe. Here, along 36 kilometers, the Danube flows feely, and the wetlands form a green ribbon between Vienna and Bratislava. As the water levels rise and fall quite dynamically here - up to 7 meters - nothing stays the same and the landscape is shaped and re-shaped again and again. The Park itself was formally set up only in 1996, 12 years after the protests at Hainburg opened up the possibility for creating and preserving such a unique habitat and international refuge. By now it is recognized as as a Riverine Wetlands National Park by IUCN, hosting 800 kinds of vascular plants, more than 30 mammalian species,100 breeding bird species, 8 reptilian and 13 amphibian species, and around 60 species of fish. What abundance!

Foto: A spectacular 44-meter long reproduction of the famous Pasetti map of 1857 shows the Danube from Passau to the Iron Gate, including flora and fauna.

So, yes, there is hope! Christmas is a good time to remind ourselves that hope and peace can inspire positive change. In researching about Hainburg, I found even more such stories, collected on, listing examples where people have taken matters in their own hands over the past two centuries - if you speak German, a great resource! Not all of the protests were peaceful and not all ended as positively as the Hainburg protests.  But if you are looking for some inspiration, check out the National Library and the Danube exhibition. Contrary to what you see online on the Museum's English website, the German-speaking one will inform you properly: It is open until the end of January.  Maybe it’s even good for a last minute present to a loved-one: Get a ticket and enjoy!
Merry Christmas!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Blog #49: Christmas for CreationKeepers - A time for giving, also to creation ...?!  

December 16, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Advent is a time for giving. Today’s Western Christians will know all about this, if only because every radio station, shop or advertisement is telling us what to buy for whom, amongst friends or family and beyond. But the mandate to give goes much further. If we had any doubt, last Sunday’s Gospel made this very clear (Luke 3:7-18): “‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”  Should this matter to those of us looking to find ways to protect God’s creation? Do flora and fauna fall under the definition of someone who has no shirt?  And if so, what shirt to give? Presumably we can take this figuratively?!
Personally, I have answered the first question - should we consider flora and fauna to count as someone - with a resounding Yes. In fact, in a growing number of countries the legal system has begun assigning to nature what is called environmental personhood. It means that a particular part of nature - a forrest, for example, or a river - is assigned rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities and legal liability of a legal personality. As a principle, this allows protecting nature for future human generations and it recognizes the relationship that many indigenous peoples have with natural entities. Nor surprise then that the legal frameworks in countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, New Zealand or Canada - where the rights of indigenous populations are increasingly recognized - know concepts of environmental personhood. For example, some of the rivers in these countries are considered legal persons, and where the rivers are being polluted, there is now a possibility to take legal action against the polluter - on behalf of the river. 
So if we consider God’s creation to be persons - in the meaning of Luke 3:7-18 - what should we give, at the occasion of Advent? The LivingLIght blog is always trying to keep a local - Vienna or Austria specific - focus, and so we reviewed a longer list of Austrian government approved environmental charities and organizations on two different websites. Indeed, we found many worthy organizations listed there that would be safe recipients of an Advent-inspired donation of yours. They range from multiple organizations protecting animals (bees,bird, dogs, strays, and so on), through organizations promoting the protection of rivers, mountains or natural habitats more generally, to political organizations looking to lobby and mobilize political action.  I am listing here my personal three favorites - just to get you inspired.
My first personal favorite is the Jane Goodall Institute Austria. Many will know Jane Goodall, the extraordinarily successful secretary-turned-anthropologist who famously confirmed the smartness of chimpanzees. The JG Institute Austria works with Austrian school children (and grown ups) on environmental education, awareness raising and mobilization, inspiring action both locally and globally, essentially teaching kids to take environmental matters in their own hands.  What I like about them most: Jane Goodall’s message - and the Institute’s message - is profoundly a message of hope, something that should sit well with us as a faith-based community.
Secondly, there are the Green Heroes Austria.  They are an environmental charity and organization that works on Waste Avoidance and Waste Management and focuses on awareness raising and public education, including through activities such as regular Danube Clean-Ups.  Yours truly participated in one such activity earlier this year - and Blog #36 Why clean up the Danube tells the story of what happened. Green Heroes Austria work locally and that may get your attention; they don’t really have a faith-based dimension, but they create ways of concretely making things better
Third on my personal list of environmental charities to give to is a bouquet of politically active organizations, starting with Greenpeace Austria, through Sea Sheperds Austria and through to Fridays for Future Austria.  If you want to contribute to the protection of God’s Creation by helping organizations that try to influence politics - right here in Austria as well as globally - these are a good place to start.
Other organizations are, of course, also great and worthy of your contributions. The Alpenverein. World Wildlife Fund. Arche Noah. Let’s explore - and let’s give.  Advent is a time for giving!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

P.S. I am glad to report that the our Church Council agreed, on one of its recent meetings, to include the Jane Goodall Institute Austria in the list charities that we, as a community, contribute to.