The prime minister’s comments, in the context of much discussion recently about climate change and crisis and a so-called ‘global climate strike’, recall that this is yet another oft-overlooked area where Hungary is out-performing expectations.
The “cheapest energy is that which we don't even produce; the most environmentally friendly energy is that which we don't use,” said President János Áder in New York last month at the UN Climate Action Summit.
President Áder touted Hungary’s Virtual Power Plant Programme (VPPP), an energy-efficiency merit scheme that has already been adopted by Italy, Britain, and Romania and was named a top-three program by the European Commission at its 2015 Sustainable Energy competition.
The 10-year-old program’s goal, said the president, is “improving energy efficiency in individuals, companies and public institutions” and has thus far saved more than a quarter of the power output of Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant. Or, as Áder more pointedly told the audience:
“We did not have to generate six percent of Hungarian electricity consumption from fossil fuels.”
“Our per capita emissions are among the lowest in the industrialized countries,” the president said, then reminding the audience that Hungary was the first European Union member state to ratify the Paris Climate Accord.
Plans and initiatives to fight the climate crisis are no longer enough, and Hungary is committed to taking real action. The country has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent since 1990 and has reduced its energy consumption at the same time, all while its economic performance has increased significantly.
President Áder has previously listed a slew of goals that will help Hungary achieve carbon neutrality by 2050: decarbonizing almost 100 percent of the power-generation industry, improving the energy efficiency of buildings, using more thermal energy, phasing out coal, and significantly reducing emissions in the transportation sector.
Áder announced that the country will steadily decrease its dependence on fossil fuels, expand the production of nuclear energy, and increase its solar power capacity tenfold. These efforts, as the prime minister and president said, will help lead to at least 90 percent of Hungary’s power production becoming CO2-free by 2030.
On the climate policy front, Hungary will support international climate finance by nearly USD 6 million in the next three years. The money will be used to support various targeted initiatives and organizations including the Green Climate Fund.
Additionally, Hungary remains committed to its reforestation program – in the last 100 years, the size of Hungarian forest land has doubled – and will increase forest coverage by 30 percent by 2050. It will also transition to the sole use of electric buses in cities of more than 25,000 by 2030.
We approach these challenges of environmental protection and cleaner energy, in Prime Minister Orbán’s view, from a Christian democratic perspective. The created world is dear to us, so we have a responsibility to look after it. That responsibility begins with the individual, then the community, then the national level.
In the case of Hungary, we are not just talking and planning but taking concrete action for a greener future.
Photo credit: infostart.hu