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Businesses, embassies combine for carbon-neutral economy in Hungary

How to achieve Net Zero target by 2050?

In a unique collaboration, the embassies of six countries and the Hungarian Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSDH) have teamed up with the support of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology to help accelerate the transition to a carbon-neutral economy in Hungary by 2050, thus taking an important step to tackle climate change.

At the online Race to Zero Business Ambitions Forum held on 3 December, leading domestic companies from several industries demonstrated their good examples and commitments, thereby encouraging domestic companies to make similar ambitious commitments towards a carbon-neutral economy.

The purpose of the event, organised by the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) and the British Embassy, in partnership with the Italian Embassy, and in collaboration with the Embassies of France, ​Germany, Canada and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, ​​was to encourage the domestic business sector to shift to a more sustainable, carbon-neutral economy after the pandemic.

The event built momentum for the United Nations’ “Race to Zero” campaign and the COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference hosted by the UK in November 2021 with the aim of raising ambitions on decreasing global greenhouse gas emissions.

“In 333 days the United Nations’ 26th Climate Change Conference will open in Glasgow, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy,” said British Ambassador to Hungary Paul Fox in his opening remarks. “This remaining year of preparation for COP26 must also take on board the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. At COP26, we must unite the world on a path to a zero carbon economy as we build back greener from COVID-19.”

Italian Ambassador to Hungary Massimo Rustico said in his keynote address: “Italy is a front runner in the Race to Zero campaign to completely decarbonise the global production system and foster inclusive and sustainable growth. To reach our goal by 2050 we need to act now.”

In her opening remarks, Barbara Botos, Deputy State Secretary for Climate Policy of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, spoke about the climate protection law recently passed by parliament, according to which Hungary has committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, thus balancing the emissions and sinks of greenhouse gases.

To meet the 2030 targets also defined by the law, namely to achieve 40% emissions reduction by 2030 and that the ratio of renewable energy sources in Hungary should reach 21% by 2030, the government will introduce measures including support for the energy-related development of domestic companies and the issuance of Green Bonds.

The Race to Zero is the UN-led campaign for a zero-carbon world. A total of 1128 businesses including the likes of Facebook, Tesco, LafargeHolcim and Magyar Telekom, and 45 of the biggest investors, have joined the global Race to Zero campaign, along with more than 450 cities and 550 universities. Businesses of all sizes and across all sectors have a clear role to play in climate action, in line with the Paris Agreement and in the lead-up to the COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.

Jen Austin, Director of Policy and Strategy, COP26 High Level Climate Champions team, gave an insight into the goals of the Race to Zero initiative, and a global overview in the run-up to COP26.

Kaya Axelsson, Net Zero Policy Engagement Fellow, Oxford University Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and the Environmental Change Institute, presented the practical steps for companies to set and achieve net zero targets.

Attila Chikán Jr., President of BCSDH said: “All companies are affected by climate change and all companies have the opportunity to influence it positively. Stabilising global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, but preferably 1.5 degrees, requires the radical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

“Transitioning our economy first to low-carbon, then carbon-neutral by 2050 is the way to achieve this objective. Businesses will play a key role in this process. Is there a better time to start it than now?”

French Ambassador Pascale Andréani said in her closing remarks: “Five years ago, by adopting the Paris Agreement, our countries committed to decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions but it was only the beginning. The urgency remains and it’s up to us, governments, private companies and citizens to turn these commitments into reality. This is our shared responsibility.”

German Ambassador Johannes Haindl said: “Fighting climate change, climate protection is teamwork. Our common goal is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, where all contributions count. Renewables are taking over in the power sector in Europe. Next steps in energy transition: replace fossil fuels in transport, industry and heating. Hydrogen will play a crucial role.”

Germany holds the rotating presidency of the European Union from 1 July 2020, which sets the standard for achieving climate neutrality.

Canadian Ambassador Caroline Charette said in her closing remarks: “We are proud to be collaborating with the British Embassy and our other partners on the Race to Zero Business Ambitions Forum and working for a carbon-neutral world by 2050.

“Climate change is a global problem and it will take a coordinated response to find global solutions. Canada continues its work to reduce emissions and build resilient communities and a low carbon economy, knowing the strong connection such efforts have with long-term health and financial well-being.”

Dutch Ambassador René van Hell said: “The Netherlands deems climate actions very timely and important, that is why it will host the Climate Adaptation Summit on 25 January 2021, focusing on how we can adapt globally to the changing climate and what solutions need to be scaled up further.

“Please, join this on-line event which will mobilise governments, companies, organisations and citizens worldwide in order to set out a roadmap towards a climate-resilient future by 2030.”

Irén Márta, Managing Director of BCSDH, said in her closing speech: “Half of our member companies already have strategic climate protection goals, commitments and programs. But it is important that as many players in the business sector as possible set ambitious carbon reduction targets, draw up an action plan for this and regularly analyse the results and measure their carbon footprint.

“This is included in the climate recommendations of the BCSDH Action2020 Hungary program. The purpose of today’s Race to Zero Business Ambitions Forum is that leading domestic companies from several industries demonstrate their best practices and commitments, thereby encouraging domestic companies to make similar ambitious commitments towards a carbon-neutral economy.”

Speakers at the Race to Zero Business Ambitions Forum event included Péter Éliás, Head of Environmental Management of Audi Hungaria; Dr. Rolf Schnitzler, CEO of Budapest Airport; Zsuzsanna Friedl, Chief People Officer of Magyar Telekom; Alastair Teare, Risk Advisory Business Leader of Deloitte Hungary; Andrew Higgins, Regional Managing Director Central and Eastern Europe of FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Tibor Bodor, CEO of ING Wholesale Banking Hungary; László Károlyi, CEO of Legrand Hungary; and Zsolt Pártos, Managing Director of TESCO Hungary, who all shared their experiences about the specific climate-protection commitments and steps taken by their companies to foster carbon-neutral operations.

About the Hungarian Business Council for Sustainable Development:

The Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) is the national partner organisation of World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). It was founded in 2007 and has 95 corporate members at the moment. BCSDH is a coalition of CEOs of leading companies that account for around 30% of Hungarian GDP. The mission of BCSDH is to promote sustainable development among its members and other actors from the Hungarian economy, thereby generating new and innovative thinking which will improve their competitiveness, and that should ultimately contribute to promoting the sustainable development of the economy, quality of life and the preservation of environmental and natural resources.

The Action 2020 Hungary program is a platform for calling the business sector to immediate action. It is a platform that business may use to put forward their solutions to environmental and social challenges, as well as the business challenges facing the country. The program defines domestic goals until 2020 and is inspiring companies to take action.

The Future Leaders Talent Program is another important program of the BCSDH, and has the aim of introducing leaders of the future to the complex conceptual system of sustainability and helping them to integrate these considerations into their decision-making processes throughout their careers.


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