The fight against climate change “will be won or lost in cities”, President János Áder said after meeting Károly Szita, head of the Association of Cities with County Rights (MJVSZ), on Tuesday.
Cities are the main battleground of the fight against climate change, the president told a joint press conference. More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in cities, and by 2050 this will be three out of four people, he said, adding that cities were therefore a key actor when it came to energy consumption and emissions. He noted that Budapest joined the international climate protection cooperation scheme Under2 in 2015, followed by Hungary’s cities with county rights in 2018.
Meanwhile, the president said certain exhibitors at the Planet Budapest sustainability expo beginning at the end of the month will be presenting on how to build smart cities, operate the existing infrastructure more efficiently and in a more eco-friendly way, and improve energy efficiency. Szita said Hungary’s 23 cities with county rights accounted for 24% of the country’s harmful emissions. According to a study compiled in coordination with the Blue Planet Foundation, the energy sector is responsible for most of the harmful emissions, followed by industry, the transport sector, waste management and agriculture, he said. Szita said the cities of Pécs, Salgótarján and Kaposvár had reduced their harmful emissions by 55%, a goal they were originally set to achieve by 2030. Szeged, Zalaegerszeg, Érd and Sopron are also “very close” to meeting this target, he added.
Turning to the future, Szita said Hungary’s major cities will take sustainability and energy efficiency into account in their investments. This will entail the use of biomass in district heating systems, electric buses in public transport and the establishment of an energy community comprising multiple cities, he said
Asked by MTI what Budapest had achieved as part of the Under2 initiative over the past two years, Szita said he had “no knowledge” of any measure implemented in the capital during that period apart from the declaration of a climate emergency. “That’s either because the press didn’t cover it … or because nothing happened,” he said.