On Thursday evening, the government published a decree suspending environmental regulations in order to increase logging for firewood. Green party Dialogue is now warning about the danger of ending all restrictions on the prohibition of clear cutting forests, including state-owned environmentally-protected forests, Natura 2000 areas, or otherwise-protected forests.
The opposition party writes that the state of Hungary’s forests is deteriorating year by year, the number of native forests is decreasing, and clear-cutting can have unforeseeable consequences, such as higher air pollution, water shortages, drought, and species invasion. Burning freshly-cut wood is not only uneconomical, they say, but also harmful to the environment and worsens air pollution. Even now, burning solid materials makes the air in many Hungarian towns and cities extremely unhealthy in the wintertime.
Dialogue argues that instead of the irresponsible destruction of forests, the government could take a meaningful step towards Hungary’s energy independence with a single stroke of the pen: by ending the ban on wind farms, and repealing the tax on solar panels and heat pumps.
The party pointed out that Fidesz promised in its 2010 election platform to remove administrative obstacles for utilizing green energy. Instead, the party banned wind farms, introduced a tax on solar panels and heat pumps, and made a long-term gas contract with Russia. The gas contract, moreover, is neither cheap nor advantageous, nor does it guarantee the security of supply.
Katalin Rodics from Greenpeace told Magyar Hang that the new decree would wipe out Hungary’s environmental achievements over the past 40-50 years. The most painful thing about this, she claimed, was not that the efforts of environmentalists will have been in vain, but that destroying the natural world endangers the country’s future. And it is being destroyed for a very short-term goal, in the middle of the climate crisis as well, said Rodics. [444, Magyar Hang]