Why It Is A Bad Idea To Veto Common Climate Actions

Why It Is A Bad Idea To Veto Common Climate Actions

A few months ago, the European Commission issued a call for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, but it was vetoed by four countries, one of which was Hungary. A Hungarian right-wing website argued that being environmentally-conscious should not be a privilege reserved for the left-wing parties. As the Earth is our home, we have to look after it, so I agree with this statement. Climate change is a common issue, its effects do not follow where a person belongs. It does not matter if you are communist or conservative, you become a victim as well because you might have to leave your home when it is no longer inhabitable.

Do we want that? Of course not!

This article functions as a response paper to a Hungarian article, which posits that left-wing parties do not give any solution to the problem of climate change and suggests that joining in any common goal initiatives is unproductive. Do not make any excuse for not ratifying climate goals, just because you need financial support to achieve them. Suggest some countermeasures instead, they are worth more and accept the fact that the European Union is not an ATM. Keep in mind, that you never build a house from the top. You should build it from the bottom.

Now, let’s go through the article “A Note on Right-Wing Green Politics” (1), which is in Hungarian. The article begins with a critique of the ideology. The idea is to think globally, act locally. However, it should not be a privilege to any particular political affiliation. We have to accept the fact that everything is part of the world. We have to commit ourselves to a better world. Nowadays, we have corporations who commit themselves to a good cause, so it may not be a privilege to anyone in particular. If you want to progress, you may have to enforce a couple of policies that might adversely affect others at times.

So why can’t Hungary follow the examples of Austria? Or Iceland? Or Japan?

Do not simply come up with the GDP or the size of the country (even so, Austria is smaller than Hungary for that matter). It is not about comparison. According to Warren Heaps (2010), every country must have different markets and compensation programs should reflect a balance between global corporate philosophy and local practice and culture.

Successful companies (like Levi’s) have already adopted this principle in pricing, selling, and so on. Therefore, big companies build factories in countries where labour is cheap. They want a big profit with limited costs. This is a cliché, everyone knows it. A common argument against Levi’s is that their jeans are very expensive. For sure they are (anywhere in the world, they cost 3 or 4 times more than an ordinary pair of jeans), but they have top-notch quality. Accordingly, purchasers can wear them for ten years or more. So what? If you are poor, you should not buy cheap things, because they will not be durable. So do not complain about the price. You get what you pay for, after all. That is why you should engage in some saving and do not be too extravagant.

The Hungarian article posits that building factories in countries where labour is cheap is not a good strategy. Why? Because it is easily communicable, it does not give a real solution, and debates become impossible because of the ideology. I agree with this because debates are part of politics. But can you ever admit your faults? It is not understandable to me why ideology is in focus here. It is rather your incapability of holding real debates.

I remember in 2006 when the current governing party, FIDESZ (Alliance of Young Democrats) lost the general elections against the Socialist Party. The governing Socialist prime minister crushed the other candidate in a debate (2). The other candidate said “I want to increase this” and “I want to decrease that”. But no definite goal was set in this debate in case he won the elections. The governing party had targets and results. If you want to be a good leader, you have to set a definite goal, and you have to set the measures for its success to be responsible for what you say. If you are a leader, you must know the country very well. The prime minister in 2006 could not set a proper goal to decrease public debt and address the dangers in our economy, but argued for “more resources for all”. If someone says this, he or she is lying at some point, especially after having had the opportunity to do so (between 1998 and 2002). At one point, he wanted to eradicate bureaucracy, then he said: “it might be necessary to set a Ministry for Budapest”. This is a contradiction.

This contradiction also appears in the current governmental structure, especially if we have a look at the number of secretaries and their assistants. The total number is 196. So, who is bureaucratic and who is more extravagant? Please, be consistent and honest when you are setting a goal. So arguing the lack of debates because of the ideology is not the right argument. You can convince the other half in a debate but show the basis and why your point will not fail, if you are elected.

Then, the Hungarian article says that Democrats in the US introduced the “Green New Deal” bill. Its policies included a minimum wage and basic rights. The article said Democrats belong to the left. Well, to be honest, with some background in Political Science, it is quite excessive to place Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right as several points, which are typical of the right, are still owned by the Democrats, and vice versa. Therefore, the left does not see points of certain policies as their privilege. Hence being Green on the outside does not mean they are Red on the inside.

Later on, the article takes a relative demagogue position: the left appears to be scientific while foreseeing an ecological disaster. So, let us clarify it: science never serves political parties. Authentic science looks for facts. Facts are sometimes cruel, they do not always serve your position for sure, still, you have to accept them.

Moving along, the article posits that Germany is slowly shutting down all its nuclear power plants, and the remainder will only use fossil fuels and renewable resources. Thus the price of energy became very high by the end of 2018, which was true. However, could you have a look at Ellen Thalman and Benjamin Wehrmann’s article in 2019 (3)? The German population support the idea of a transition to renewable energy because the costs are high enough to look for alternatives. It is important to recognise that wholesale energy prices have been dropping in recent years—the taxes and other surcharges are raising the bills. Still, these prices are not high enough for alternatives to viable yet.

The article of Thalman also asks one question. How frequent are power outages? Cheap energy may not mean a stable source of energy. If something is cheap, then it does not mean it is unreliable as well. If something is too cheap, it might be suspicious.

The Hungarian article goes further, saying joining international treaties, like the Paris Agreement of 2015-2016 (4), end up failing. The EU has ratified it on behalf of its members. The agreement has the main goal of carbon reduction by 20%, increasing the renewable energy share to 20% and increasing energy efficiency by 20%.

Referring back to my previous articles, the recuperating Portugal had made promising efforts to be energy efficient and consume just as much as required.

Other countries have shown their commitment to this agreement. The Netherlands made an ambitious program: by 2030, all-electric railways will be powered by the wind within the Dutch national rail lines. I am pretty sure that they will be able to do it, as they have been described as a success story in climate action in my previous articles. If a small country can do it, a slightly bigger country, like Austria or Hungary must be able to do their part as well.

Another example is Norway, a success story in almost all of the SDGs, which will ban selling diesel or petrol cars by 2025. Norway is not an EU-member, but see how committed they are to our environment! Oh yes, their prime minister is a woman. Where do we get from here? It is better to comply, otherwise, she will steer everything to crush you.

These latter countries have committed themselves. Let us do the same! We have clever and well-educated people! They are not a danger to our positions. If they want to follow an ambitious goal, let us follow them. They worked a lot to set baselines, they provided us with frameworks on how we should reach them. Let’s reward them by following them. It will not be harmful.

More recently, Hungary vetoed the EU Climate Agreement of 2050 (5), because of the fear of adverse economic effects and the lack of financial aid to finance it. However, the most hilarious argument against the climate policy was from the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis: “Why should we decide 31 years ahead of time what should happen in 2050?” Well, you may not be alive at that time, but as I mentioned: these are targets. You have to do your part in them. Why is it a good idea to join it? You must show how committed you are to the European Union and its values, not just look at it as an ATM.

The Hungarian article argues that the Left was not environmentally conscious, yet they are demonising nuclear power. Let us clarify it again: nobody is diminishing it, they just want to make you understand: there was a Mayak, Chernobyl and Fukushima. All linked to nuclear power plants. Do we want the same with Paks? Could you explain to me why the local average temperature near Paks is higher than the rest of Hungary? Why is the Danube warmer there? Please do not argue the different structures of Chernobyl and Paks. What is more, Paks lies close to a tectonic fault. What if an earthquake strikes the area? Does Fukushima ring a bell?

Furthermore, the article says conservatives also act on the side of our climate, it is not necessary to be on the left. For sure it is true. Margaret Thatcher was a committed and ambitious climate activist, let’s never forget what she had done to mitigate against the depletion of the ozone layer. So it does not make any sense to posit things like the left considers environmental affairs as a privilege. Nobody said things like that. The American Democrats are not on the left-wing, as in the United States such things do not exist. It is very steep to place Republicans as conservatives and Democrats as liberals.

The Hungarian article also posits against the idea of “global citizens”. I have no idea why it has become a negative element. It is a good idea to be open to the world’s problems. Because your nation is a part of the world. Therefore, we are open to them as well. We want to act locally and think globally. Everyone wants to do his or her small part. However, since the events that took place in Hungary in 2006, it seems a lot of people are following the exact opposite. That is: “The price of bread has increased! Let’s damage the headquarters of a television station!” This is what happened.

Furthermore: “Ferencváros [Hungarian football club] got disqualified from the Hungarian Championship! Let’s damage the headquarters!” This is what happened. If you are thinking globally, would anyone care about this Hungarian team? Be committed to the world and heal it yourself by taking small steps. I have already been doing my part by cutting down on plastic. My team had already achieved in Bandung. Are you ready to do your part? Be aware: we do not have as much time as we think until 2030, or even 2050. The years are just blowing away!

– Gergely Lázár

    1. Orbán Balázs: Jegyzet a Jobboldali Zöld Politikáról (this article is in Hungarian, I translated the most important points of it above)
    2. The decisive debate between the two Hungarian prime minister candidates in 2006: Gyurcsány Vs. Orbán Választási Vita 2006 (it is also in Hungarian, I translated the key parts of it, which are what led Gyurcsány to win the election)
    3. Thalman, E., & Wehrmann, B. (2019, June 26): What German Households Pay for Power
    4. Paris Agreement
    5. Rankin, J. (2019, June 20): Central European Countries Block EU Moves Towards 2050 Zero Carbon Goal

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

 

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