A good air pollution reduction programme – if it will be implemented

The measures described in the draft National Air Pollution Control Program (NAPCP) are strong and worth supporting, however, they are not sufficient to significantly reduce air pollution. This is the opinion of the Clean Air Action Group (CAAG)sent to the ministry responsible for the environment.

The European Union’s National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive stipulates that by the 1st of April 2019, all Member States should have submitted a program detailing how they plan to reduce emissions of certain air pollutants to the required levels by 2030. The Hungarian government’s draft program has only recently been submitted for public debate.

The draft foresees, among other things, improvements to the energy efficiency of buildings, the modernisation of stoves, the extension of district heating, restrictions on residential use of certain solid fuels, and the reduction of transport emissions through employing new technologies and promoting greener transport options. CAAG believes that the implementation of these and other measures described in the draft would truly contribute to cleaner air, but this highly depends on how they will be implemented. Therefore, the organization urges the government to publish a more detailed action plan.

“We welcome the program, but remain sceptical, since the government has adopted an air pollution reduction programme – which we considered to be excellent – already in 2011, however, very little of it has been implemented since. In the meantime, the situation has worsened in many respects: household incineration of waste is widespread, more people are heating with highly polluting lignite than before, and the import of used cars has increased dramatically” – said András Lukács, president of CAAG.

CAAG also expresses concern that the NAPCP fails to mention the illegal household incineration of waste, which is one of the main causes of air pollution, and as a consequence, also doesn’t mention that strengthening the relevant authorities is one of the key tools for eliminating this phenomenon, because they are currently unable to enforce existing legislation.

CAAG draws attention also to the fact that the number and mileage of petrol and diesel vehicles are projected to continue increasing, which could largely negate the impact of measures to reduce air pollution from transport. For this reason, CAAG believes that it is urgent to introduce a kilometre- and pollution-based charge on all vehicles on all Hungarian roads.

Translated by Katalin Tarr