The world is running out of time to tackle climate change, the water crisis and other environmental problems, President János Áder said in a video message to the Budapest Climate Summit on Thursday.
Atmospheric CO2 continues to rise and the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C. is now but a dream, the president said, adding that a cap of 3 degrees was now a far more realistic target.
Citing a recent Belgian-German study, Áder said the number of days marked by heatwaves could multiply five-fold and droughts could more than double over the coming decades.
“If we fail to act, CO2 emissions will increase by 60 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. There’s plenty to do,” he said.
However, the world faces other challenges as well, the president said, noting the water crisis, the loss of biodiversity, urbanisation and the challenge of transitioning to a circular economy.
Áder said Hungary was better positioned to tackle these issues than many other European countries. Hungary has reduced its harmful emissions by 32 percent since 1990, while 12 other European Union countries have managed only smaller reductions and five others have seen their emissions rise, he said.
He also said that over the last five years Hungary had doubled the capacity of its solar power plants each year, adding that solar electricity production in Hungary this summer exceeded coal-based electricity production.
Last month Hungary began running the first electric buses that will replace its entire bus fleet by the end of the decade, Áder said. “Another piece of good news is that afforestation in Hungary has recently gained new momentum,” he added.
“We have less than 30 years to transition to a circular economy, achieve climate neutrality and transform our energy mix,” Áder said. During this period Hungary must also create the conditions for building smart cities and making its transport sustainable, halt the loss of biodiversity and develop a green financing strategy to meet these challenges, he added.
featured image: President Áder holding a lecture about climate change for the pupils of a primary school in Budakeszi; illustration via Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI