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article imageHungary unveils 'Christian democratic'-based climate strategy

By AFP     Jan 16, 2020 in World

Hungary unveiled a climate change strategy Thursday that has been described by Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a "Christian democratic" approach to tackling global warming.

Published on the government's website, the National Energy and Climate Plan sets out targets including 90 percent carbon-neutral electricity production by 2030, mostly from nuclear and solar energy.

Orban said last week the strategy was "Christian democratic-based" -- a label which he often uses for his policies, including his fierce opposition to immigration from Muslim countries.

Critics have described the latter stance as far-right and nativist.

Orban told reporters at a press conference last week that "the protection of the created environment and of nature just on a biblical basis is an especially Christian democratic policy".

"Conserving nature for our children and grandchildren can be imagined as conserving something that was created by God," Peter Kaderjak, a state secretary for the environment, told AFP afterwards.

"It's a general principle but the strategy's concrete objective is to create a clean sustainable country where you can have a good life," said Kaderjak.

The strategy cements a recent change of tone by Orban and his ruling Fidesz party, whose politicians have often seemed ambivalent on climate change.

Last year one of Orban's senior ministers called Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg a "sick child" and her street movement "repellent" to ordinary Hungarians.

Pro-Orban media commentators also regularly cast doubt on the link between human-induced global warming and extreme weather events.

"Orban doesn't want climate change to be solely a leftist topic, either in Hungary or in Europe," Agoston Mraz, an analyst with the Nezopont Institute in Budapest, told AFP Thursday.

"He is trying to build up a conservative right-wing green politics as a counterbalance," said Mraz.

After initially vetoing the EU's carbon neutrality goal for 2050, Orban signed up last month after securing a concession from Brussels over its reliance on nuclear energy.

An upcoming climate action plan will include pledges to clean up rivers, ban illegal rubbish dumping, and equip all cities with electric buses by 2022, said Orban.

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