First Hungarian Climate Neutrality Progress Report
Author: Tibor Schaffhauser

Hungary’s First Climate Neutrality Progress Report attempts to objectively present various emission trends, thereby informing decision-makers and, in a broader sense, the entire society.

Our country signed into law in 2020 that it will become climate neutral by 2050. At the same time, achieving this cannot be achieved overnight, it requires continuous commitment and action over several decades. In order to be able to give appropriate policy responses, we need to know the starting situation and the current processes. According to the Green Policy Center, it is high time to make this information available to the public in a concise, comprehensible and visualized manner.

Hungary’s position in global action against climate change

In international comparisons, Hungary’s climate performance is roughly in the middle range, but in relation to the European Union, the various rankings indicate that it is behind the average. In the latest ranking of the Climate Change Performance Index, which is the most recognized worldwide, Hungary ranked 53rd out of 63 countries, ahead of only Poland in the European Union.

The evolution of greenhouse gas emissions and absorptions in Hungary since 2010

A significant and permanent decrease in Hungary’s GHG emissions has occurred in recent decades mostly during economic crises. In the period between them, emissions showed a rather stagnant trend. However, it is a relative result that from 2018 on, GHG emissions separated from the growing trend of GDP, i.e. the growth of the economy did not result in an increase in emissions.

The report compares two ten-year periods (2010-2020 and 2020-2030) to give a sense of the scale of the challenge ahead. Although Hungarian GHG emissions in 2020 are slightly lower than in 2010, a consistent downward trend cannot be observed for the entire period 2010-2020. The current 2030 and 2050 climate goals were adopted in 2020, so Hungarian climate policy has not been defined by such ambitious goals in the past ten years. Officially, Hungary met and even exceeded both its national and international climate goals for 2020, but at the same time, it is clear from the emission data of the last decade that a significant trend change is needed for the future, if we take the 2030 and especially the 2050 goals seriously and plan to achieve them.

Climate neutrality indicators and their evaluation

Achieving the 2050 climate neutrality goal presupposes a fundamental transformation of the current economic operation. In order to be able to see in time and objectively whether the steps taken for this purpose are effective and the processes are heading in the right direction, in addition to the climate neutrality goal, it is necessary to set sectoral or other sub-goals in many areas, and in connection with this, to measure and evaluate a number of indicators and for incorporating results into policy planning. This also has the advantage that it is clearer for each actor what their role and responsibility are in achieving the common goal.

The authors of the report could not find data for 32 of the 108 indicators examined in Chapter 3 of the report, which is a ratio of nearly 30%, which can be said to be a significant deficiency. In particular, the dimension regarding industry (6/11), financing (3/8) and climate governance (6/13) was deficient. This data gap must be reduced so that progress can be properly measured.

As regards the individual sectors and areas examined, Hungary’s performance is mixed. There are indicators indicating relatively good performance, but several can be said to be average or below. The extremely high level of social support for the climate neutrality goal is worth highlighting, which can provide a good basis for ambitious action. After recording the initial state of the individual indicators in 2020, the reports of the following years will show where and at what pace we are moving from the current situation.

The First Hungarian Climate Neutrality Progress report can be found (in Hungarian) below:


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