Letter from the Editor

bridges vol. 11, September 2006 / Letter from the Editor
by Philipp Steger

Dear Reader,

During the Austrian EU Presidency, the OST placed a strong emphasis on environmental policy issues. At the beginning of the year, we kicked off our series of events and meetings with a briefing on global climate change, the related policy options, and the outcomes of the 2005 Montreal Conference. In June, we concluded our EU-Presidency activities with an event on "green buildings," featuring a panel discussion with a number of experts from both the US and Austria.

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For us at the OST, the event constituted a temporary shift of focus from the often abstract policy level to a concrete set of responses to the energy conundrum and global warming. It was a welcome change: While observing international politics from close-up is often fascinating and at times even exhilarating, it can also become the source of considerable frustration, particularly if one happens to feel that the challenge of climate change is not being tackled with the sense of urgency that the severity of the problem requires. The scientific and technological advances embodied by "green buildings" are not only an impressive reminder of the power and resourcefulness of human ingenuity, but - more importantly - they also offer specific answers to very real challenges. Thus, the event on "green buildings" allowed us to emphasize what can be done as opposed to what should be done.

The "green building" event's success - over one hundred interested experts from a variety of relevant backgrounds participated - inspired us to return to the topic once more in bridges. And we were lucky: For this edition of bridges, fifteen authors graciously agreed to either write or talk about "green buildings" from their own unique perspectives.

"Green buildings" alone will not solve the challenge of securing a global energy supply while preserving our environment, but their spread will certainly go a long way towards changing people's attitudes about sustainable energy use and people's notions of what it means to be responsible stewards of the earth.







Philipp Steger