The government’s programme for the reduction air pollution is uninterpretable

The measures described in the National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP) published recently, are not sufficient to substantially reduce air pollution even if they are implemented, but the Programme leaves serious doubts about realization as well. This is the conclusion reached by the Clean Air Action Group (CAAG) after reviewing the document that aims to determinate Hungary’s air quality policy for the next 10 years.

According to the relevant legislation of the European Union, each member state should have submitted its Programme by 1 April 2019 confirming how it will reduce the emissions of each air pollutant to the required level by 2030. The draft Programme in Hungary was submitted to the public debate by the government in July 2019 and the final Programme, which is forward-looking in some respects compared to the draft but it is also a step back in several aspects, was published only with a delay of more than a year.

According to the Programme, the reduction of harmful emissions may even be significantly less than the required level. The Programme does not include a budget, which makes it practically uninterpretable. Therefore, the organization urges the development of a detailed action plan with an indication of costs, schedules and responsibilities, and clarification of the objectives to be achieved.

The Programme specifies, among others, improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings, upgrading of combustion equipment, expanding district heating, limiting the use of certain solid fuels by the population, and reducing transport emissions by technical means and supporting more environmentally friendly modes of transport. CAAG is of the opinion that the implementation of these and other measures envisaged in the draft would effectively contribute to cleaner air, but this will largely depend on how they are implemented.

“We welcome many elements of the Programme, but we also have serious concerns, as current plans, such as the Air Pollution Reduction Programme adopted in 2011 and the National Environmental Programme, have not been implemented. Furthermore, the NAPCP does not include any substantive measures on several important issues, such as the elimination of the widespread burning of household waste and the restriction of import of old second-hand cars” said András Lukács, CAAG’s President.

In order to eliminate the burning of household waste, the CAAG urges the strengthening of the competent authorities, as they are currently unable to implement the current legislation. It is also necessary to provide heating support to all those in need. The organization also points out that according to the official forecast the number and mileage of petrol and diesel vehicles will increase in the future, which could largely nullify the impact of measures to reduce transport’s air pollution. Therefore, it is urgent to impose distance- and pollution-based tolls on all motor vehicles on all Hungarian roads.

Translatad by Lakos Gábor