The details of Hungarian government’s eight-point climate strategy, initially announced by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán this past Sunday in his State of the Nation address, were released by the Hungarian Minister of Information and Technology on Wednesday.
“To put it bluntly, protecting the climate and nature is truly our Christian and patriotic duty,” Orbán said in that speech. “Climate protection has become a political fashion, and a lot of empty talk is tarnishing the gravity of the matter. If we truly fear for our land, our natural environment and our climate, then it is time to act and not simply talk.”
Hungary has agreed to go carbon-neutral by 2050, along with most other EU member states, but the tasks and costs of such an effort are expected to be enormous.
Palkovics detailed the plan in the following eight points:
- On July 1, 2010, Hungary will begin to eliminate illegal landfills and punish polluters. In order achieve that, a Waste Management Authority with a staff of 500 will supervise waste disposal and if needed sanction contraventions.
- Ban the sale of disposable plastics and facilitating the return and recycling of glass, plastic bottles and metal cans.
- Protect the country’s rivers from waste coming from outside the country. By 2021, 150,000 hectares of protected nature reserves will be cleaned and measures will be taken to ensure they remain free of pollution.
- The government will require multinational companies operating in Hungary to use environmentally friendly technologies. In parallel with this, over the next two years, small and medium-size enterprises wiil receive state grants of 32 billion forints for renewable energy production.
- Ten trees will be planted for every new-born baby, meaning as many as one million new trees per year, which will increase the country’s forested area by 27 percent by the year 2030.
- A six-fold increase in the capacity of solar power plants in the next 10 years.
- Bring to market affordable electric cars with a strong focus on subsidizing small and cheap cars, while also transitioning urban public transport to electric vehicles.
- Launch green government bonds with the proceeds used to invest in environmentally friendly technologies.
Orbán said last month that for too long the liberal parties of Europe have seized on the climate change danger, with many conservatives ignoring the issue.
“In the West, the Greens have found a good approach to the climate issue, but in Hungary, the government has established the Christian-Democrat climate policy,” Orbán said.
Green parties are increasing in popularity in many Western countries and their vote share is increasing in Germany and Great Britain. In Austria, polling now shows that the environment has replaced immigration as the country’s top concern, helping propel the Green Party to its best result ever in recent elections.
Orbán believes that conservatives need to take back the issue of environmental conservation, which has historically been tied to the conservative movement.