Hungary

   

Environmental Policies

#17
Key Findings
With implementation concerns despite an adequate legal framework, Hungary falls into the upper-middle ranks internationally (rank 17) in the area of environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

The country has comprehensive environmental laws, strongly influenced by EU policies. However, the issue has not been a focus for the government. Policy has thus been fragmented, and problems such as drinking-water contamination and waste-site mismanagement have grown. Rampant construction in Budapest has led to the loss of many trees.

The country is expanding its use of nuclear power, with work on a key plant still strongly contested by the Austrian government. This will likely help reduce CO2 emissions, but has also resulted in a neglect of renewable power sources.

Environment

#28

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
5
As the 2011 constitution incorporated “green” values, the constitutional basis for environmental policy in Hungary is strong. Comprehensive environmental regulations are in place, and the EU continues to serve as an important driver of policy action. However, environmental policy has suffered from a lack of commitment and institutional fragmentation. Ever since the second Orbán government, no separate Ministry of Environmental Policy has existed. In the third Orbán government, environmental issues have largely been dealt with by the Ministry of Agriculture, in a department led by a deputy state secretary. However, water management has rested with the Ministry of the Interior, and, the subnational environment authorities have become part of the newly created government offices at the county level. Due to the low importance attached to the protection of the environment, problems such as the frequent contamination of drinking water resources and the mismanagement of garbage sites (often inherited from the privatization period of the nineties and still poisoning the environment) have grown. The megalomaniac construction activities of the government have led to a serious “deforestation” in Budapest, as hundreds of big trees in many parts of the capital have been cut. The extension of the Paks nuclear power plant, eventually accepted by the European Commission in October 2017, but still contested by the Austrian government, has been one of the biggest bones of contention between the government and the opposition.

Citations:
Zalan, E. (2017): Commission still silent on Hungarian nuclear contract, in: euobserver, October 4 (https://euobserver.com/energy/139183).

Global Environmental Protection

#12

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
5
Issues of global environmental protection do not feature very prominently in Hungary. The Orbán government has stressed its commitment to the EU’s environmental policy but has not been a driving force. The controversial extension of the Paks nuclear power plant will help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions but has raised other environmental issues such as the storage of nuclear waste. Moreover, it has prompted conflicts with neighboring countries. The decision to expand the reliance on nuclear energy has gone hand in hand with a neglect of renewables. As a result, Hungary has experienced a sharp drop in the non-profit Germanwatch ranking on climate change policy.

Citations:
Burck, J., F. Marten, C. Bals (2017): Climate Change Performance Index: Results 2017. Berlin: Germanwatch/ Climate Action Network Europe (https://germanwatch.org/en/download/16484.pdf).
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