Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: MTI

Szijjarto: Environmental challenges should remain focus point despite pandemic

The challenges posed by climate change should not be neglected despite the hardships the coronavirus pandemic has brought on economy and health care, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

In a video message addressing the opening ceremony of Okoindustria, a two-day virtual green expo held for environmental enterprises, Szijjarto called for the coordination of sustainability and competitiveness.

Hungary has succeeded in increasing its economic performance while curbing the emissions of harmful substances, he said. While Hungary makes up 2 percent of the EU’s population, its domestic emissions only account for 1 percent, he said.

Carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 32 percent since 1990, and energy consumption by 15 percent, he said. Hungary has also pledged to produce 90 percent of its electricity carbon-free by 2030, he said, adding the country aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Regarding sustainable energy resources, Szijjarto noted that the capacity of solar panels in Hungary has grown 13-fold since 2018. The ratio of sustainable energy resources is planned to grow to 20 percent in ten years, he said.

Hungary’s climate goals cannot be achieved without the use of nuclear energy, Szijjarto said. The Paks nuclear plant is estimated to prevent the production of 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide once its upgrade is completed, he said.

Hungary is also a key player in making driving cleaner, with one of the largest battery factories of the world under construction in the country, he said.

In the face of global environmental challenges, Hungary’s responsibilities cannot be limited to the Carpathian Basin, Szijjarto said. Last year, it disbursed over 120 billion forints (EUR 330.4m) in 110 countries to support some 550 international projects funding the responsible use of natural resources, he said. Hungarian funding of such projects has grown ten-fold in the past decade, he added.

With the cooperation of economic players, Hungary will transition to a circular economy and greener methods, Szijjarto said.

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