As Greenpeace.org reports, the summit meeting of the ministers of some EU states was held on 30 January in Brussels to which the 9 most polluting member states got invited. Hungary was one of the invited states since air pollution has been a long-standing issue in the country. The aim of the meeting was to make decisions and take actual steps against worldwide pollution. Here are the details.
Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, called up the ministers for the environment of those EU member states that regularly violate the rules concerning the emission of air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The list of the countries involved in the matter is the following: Hungary, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.
This is the last occasion when the above-mentioned countries, emitting different heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, can do something for the reduction of pollution. Otherwise, a lawsuit is going to be filed against them at the Court of Justice of the European Union because of exceeding the air pollution limit.
Benjamin Stephen, a campaigner of Greenpeace, declared “that the exhaust fumes of vehicles kill ten thousands of people in Europe despite the fact that there are certain laws that protect the inhabitants. The problem is that the governments do not carry out the necessary measures and take steps against those polluting the environment.
In fact, Hungary is one of those countries where air pollution is significantly high due to which a number of people suffer from various symptoms.
Due to particle pollution, more than 10,000 people die while due to nitrogen-dioxide pollution, more than 1,200 people die annually. Moreover, increased air pollution can cause several diseases like cardiovascular diseases, tumours, respiratory illnesses or malformation.
In Hungary, both particle pollution and nitrogen-dioxide pollution are present that exceed the limit given by the EU at several measurement points. For instance, at Széna Square, Budapest, the value of the measured nitrogen-dioxide was around 200 instead of the permitted 18, while in Pécs and Debrecen, this was around 100 in 2016 and 2017, reports Greenpeace Hungary. The major source of particle pollution is co-firing, but people burn textile, plastic and other household wastes, too. This has increased significantly between 2008-2010 due to the increased heating costs.
Greenpeace Hungary, in collaboration with the Air Work Teams, worked out a solution in 2016 to ameliorate the situation. The association says that since then, they have taken serious measures at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, but these are still not enough. In fact, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched an informative programme about the dangers of incineration, but it does not seem to be efficient enough.
The prohibition of lignite burning and effective measures against illegal incineration of domestic or municipal wastes have not taken place.
Besides incineration, old diesel vehicles also contribute to air pollution. While in Western Europe, countries prohibit the old diesel cars one after the other, in Hungary, their number has not decreased in the last few years. The problem could be solved by creating green zones in the capital where the most polluting vehicles would be banned or by introducing congestion pricing.
Gergely Simon, the chemical expert of Greenpeace Hungary, highlights that what they want from the government is to act more effectively and improve the quality of air in the interest of the well-being of Hungarians.