On 21 January 2021, at the invitation of Denmark following the initiative of the U.S., EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry held a videoconference. Hungary was represented by Mr. Péter Sztáray, State Secretary for Security Policy. The meeting was convened shortly after President Joe Biden, on his very first day in office, formally initiated the re-accession of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. The online event was the first initiative of the Biden administration addressing the European Union at the level of Ministers, signifying a very high priority for climate diplomacy for the new chapter of EU-U.S. relations.
The meeting took place after the U.S. administration showed interest in a Danish proposal urging efforts on accelerating a just transition from coal to clean energy.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry stated “the U.S. has a fundamental responsibility to lead by example and to help build momentum for raising the international climate ambition”. In this regard, the like-minded EU can be a key partner in the future. A proportionate contribution from the biggest polluters is essential but it is just as important to help both the vulnerable countries and those facing greater challenges. The U.S. will come up with an ambitious commitment. EU foreign ministers welcomed the U.S.’ intention to cooperate. Many of them stated that this step opens a new chapter in the transatlantic cooperation.
State Secretary Péter Sztáray welcomed the decision of the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement. A wide range of opportunities is now open for deepening the cooperation with the EU concerning the Paris goals. One of the key areas of mutual interest in this regard is the decarbonization of the energy sector that is responsible for nearly three-quarters of global emissions. Hungary is committed to the clean energy transition, including the gradual and just phase out of coal. Our last remaining coal-fired power plant (the Mátra Power Plant) will phase out its lignite-fired blocks until 2030. Hungary will greatly increase its use of renewable energy sources but we will also rely on emissions-free nuclear energy in the long-term. For the medium term, Hungary will keep on using natural gas as a lower-emitting energy option, bridging the energy transition period. As regards nuclear energy, Hungary’s approach is rather similar to that of the U.S. The U.S. can play an important role in the climate-friendly development of Central and Southeast Europe by contributing to our diversification efforts in natural gas – also keeping in mind that Europe is a major market for US LNG. In that respect, the arrival of the first LNG consignment from the US to the LNG Terminal on Krk island in Croatia is of historic importance and will greatly contribute to the energy security and diversification efforts of our region. John Kerry agreed and stated that natural gas serves as a transition fuel for the U.S. as well.