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After a long debate on Wednesday evening, Klára Dobrev and Péter Márki-Zay, the two remaining candidates for prime minister in the second round of the primaries, had another debate the following day, on Thursday evening. This time, however, all the topics were related to the environment.

HVG and Greenpeace organized the event called ‘2022 Climate Elections: What do Klára Dobrev and Péter Márki-Zay think about this?’. The event was especially important because the only green politician in the race, Gergely Karácsony, decided to step aside in favor of Márki-Zay. This means that neither Dobrev nor Márki-Zay’s main focus is on environmental issues, yet they agreed to the debate.

Similar to the previous debate, it was clear that the candidates have both disagreements but a fair amount of agreements as well.

At the beginning, Dobrev mentioned that Márki-Zay was the only candidate who did not answer Greenpeace’s questions over the summer, and he apologized for this now.

Márki-Zay thinks that environmental protection and climate protection deserve a separate ministry. Dobrev plans to take further steps.

Paks II and nuclear energy

An important topic was the extension of the Paks nuclear power plant.

Fact

The Paks Nuclear Power Plant is the only nuclear power plant in Hungary. It was built in Paks between 1969 and 1987. The 1760 MW plant, which had a capacity of 2000 MW when it was first built, now generates 53.6% of Hungary’s electricity as of 2014.

The Paks II Nuclear Power Plant is a fully Hungarian-owned company established for the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant.

Márki-Zay thinks that nuclear energy could be a solution until we do not have enough renewable energy. He said that aside from renewable energy, nuclear energy is the “cleanest.” I don’t have a problem with nuclear energy, I have a problem with this particular contract and the economics of it,” the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely said.

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Dobrev, disagreeing with her opponent, said that “Paks II is not only a business and financial disaster, it is also an environmental disaster.” Therefore, she thinks the investment needs to be stopped.

The common man and the environment

The most significant disagreement between the two candidates seemed to be about the relationship of the common man, especially those who are poor, and the environment. Márki-Zay thinks that the two questions are separate; Dobrev disagrees.

Dobrev says that poor people are more likely to be polluters because they have no choice to switch to more environmentally friendly cars, for example, as they are significantly more expensive.

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“We cannot talk about avoiding climate catastrophe and a green Hungary without talking about the fact that this is a cost that the common man cannot afford,” she said. She also added that there is a minimum consumption that is part of the dignity of every human being. The same goes for public transportation and mobility, which, according to her, should be improved. Therefore, Dobrev thinks that just like water cannot simply be turned off in households, this should go for other things as well, such as electricity. Márki-Zay reminded her that this is the case during the winter season. However, he thinks that free energy will not motivate people to become greener. “The biggest danger of making something merely free is that it will be used inefficiently,” Márki-Zay said.

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“The common man and the environment are two different things,” said Márki-Zay. “Very much not,” replied Dobrev, adding that in order to avoid the climate catastrophe, the common man is asked to do a lot of things differently.

Air pollution

“Air pollution must be tackled as severely as possible,” the mayor said, but added that of course, solutions must be provided to enable poor people to heat their homes in a clean way. He also said that air pollution kills more than 13,000 people a year.

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Dobrev did not like that Márki-Zay used the word “punishment” regarding the issue, as she thinks no one would want to “burn rubber and clothes in the stove to keep from freezing” if they would have the resources for clean alternatives. Márki-Zay disagreed, and said while there are very poor people who burn such objects, he personally, knows such people who could afford the clean way and yet do not do so. However, besides recourse, people should also be motivated and educated about this, Márki-Zay added.

The missing issues

The other debate, which had a record number of views, was one and a half-hours long, but this one was less than an hour. As it was mentioned, a reason for this was that Márki-Zay had to leave early. However, because of the lack of time, several topics were not able to be discussed in detail. In the end, the candidates quickly mentioned some other topics that should have been discussed and they consider important, such as geothermal energy, agriculture, waste management, two tariff measurements, wind turbines, water conservation, water and green surfaces, and watering.

Márton Gergely, HVG‘s editor-in-chief, who was the moderator, reminded voters that it is important to choose someone “who we think can do the most for green issues” and asked them to do so and decide if they haven’t done it so far.

The full debate can be viewed below:

Featured image: screen capture from HVG’s video