Budapest declares climate emergency, teases carbon-neutrality

(EurActiv, 7 Nov 2019) The new Green mayor of Budapest on Tuesday (5 November) added his city to the growing list of capitals to have declared climate emergencies. It is the first visible break with Viktor Orbán’s government, which still opposes an EU plan to go climate-neutral by 2050.

Gergely Karácsony, leader of green party Dialogue for Hungary, was elected mayor on 13 October, defeating incumbent István Tarlós, who was backed by the ruling Fidesz party. Karácsony was able to secure more than 50% of the vote by winning an opposition primary.

A Tuesday meeting of the city’s general assembly saw a number of measures proposed by Karácsony get the green light, including a ban on controversial building projects and staffing issues.

But the new mayor’s decision to enact a climate emergency and draw up a carbon neutrality plan were the headline announcement.

The proposal suggested by Karácsony says that “recognising that climate change presents a fundamental threat to people’s welfare, a peaceful society, and the living conditions of future generations, the General Assembly assesses that there is a climate emergency.”

Although largely symbolic in nature, the climate declaration was adopted by unanimous vote. The assembly will now take carbon emissions into account when making decisions and Karácsony will have to draft his carbon-neutral strategy for the city next year.

Fidesz lawmaker Zsolt Láng said during the assembly debate that he would not vote against the measure but cast doubt on whether “emergency” was the right term to use and insisted that the national government’s climate policy is working.

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EurActiv, 7 Nov 2019: Budapest declares climate emergency, teases carbon-neutrality