Industrial emissions, pollution-related electricity and heat production have been drastically reduced in Hungary since acceding to the EU. Consequently, residential solid fuel combustion, transport and illegal waste combustion have become todays most significant emission sources. Currently, particulate matter presents the biggest health risk and is Hungarys most problematic pollutant because significant sources of it are from residential heating, transportation and agriculture.
Measurement and evaluation of air quality in Hungary is implemented by the Hungarian Air Quality Network (HAQN), established in the 1970s. The limits set by the European Union's Air Quality Directive 2008/50 /EC have not been applied in several municipalities in Hungary, and as a result in 2008 the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against Hungary. To implement efficient actions whichwould enable targets to be reached, the Hungarian Government adopted the 1330/2011 Government Decision on the Intersectoral Action Program on the Reduction of Small Particulate Matter (PM10). This estimated a 10-20% of PM10 emissions by 2030. The Government has started implementing the National Air Pollution Control Program and Herman Ott Institute Nonprofit Ltd. is one of the key actors to identify its strategy. In addition to the even more ambitious PM reduction targets, the programme will also seek to reduce NMVOC, SO2, NOx and NH3.
A Clean Air Dialogue took place between Hungary and the European Commission on 3-4 October 2017. During this, the Commission encouraged Hungary to make full use of EU funding mechanisms to support air quality and emission reduction objectives, and also suggested that Hungary submit a LIFE integrated project to improve the air quality of urban areas.
The main objective of the LIFE-IP HUNGARY project is to implement air quality plan measures in 8 regions to maintain an appropriate environmental state and improve air quality in compliance with the human right to healthy environment and clean air. During the project, 10 Hungarian municipalities representing 8 regions will participate and implement air quality plans. The project aims to promote the implementation of the measures laid down in the air quality plans (AQPs). These are prepared by the regional environmental authorities (county government offices) taking into consideration suggestions from the municipalities.
The main objectives of the LIFE IP project are the following:
- eliminate key barriers between the efficient implementation of municipal air quality plans and the domestic and EU funds, and make the use of financial sources more efficient;
- support and train decision-makers by developing and sharing know-how, providing local data and models and integrating the strategic planning of different sectors;
- develop an institutional background of information exchange, communication and air pollution prevention by installing an air pollution prevention consultant network to ensure that air quality plans and emission reduction measures are implemented;
- raise awareness of environmental issues by organising different events and campaigns on decreasing residential and transport air pollution and energy consumption;
- support inhabitants to be more efficient in submitting air quality and environmental protection projects; and
- transfer knowledge and disseminate good practices at national and international level.
Measures to be implemented are:
- automated monitoring stations will be installed at municipalities where currently none exist;
- air quality plans to be renewed and updated during the implementation of the project starting from the first phase. These are to be based on the data produced (model application) within the project and carried out by the eco-managers in each phase in each participating municipality;
- efforts must be made to exploit and create available tenders which improve air quality. An eco-manager network will be set up to facilitate this and to link developments to the AQPs;
- strong cooperation is expected between stakeholders in implementing the AQPs; and
- broad information campaigns will be launched through mediachannels. Residential combustion and transportation habits can only be changed with regular awareness raising and educational campaigns.
Actions projected by complementary actions from other sources of funding:
- residential energy efficiency improvements, purchase of modern combustion plants/stokers, increased use of renewable energies;
- preference for and development of public transport, construction of bicycle lanes, construction/configuration of a public bike system, configuration of P + R, B + R parking places; and
- promoting e-mobility, developing the charging network, sustainable city logistics, limiting heavy traffic.
The following project results will be transferable within Hungary and also in EU member states:
1. regional to urban background-scale air pollutant concentration maps: the scientific background data will be available for hydro-meteorological institutes, universities, and technology organisations
2. a user-friendly decision support tool which allows municipality experts in the cities to assess the impact of changes in their citys traffic, industrial and residential emissions on air quality. Since the project will gain from the experience of MALOPOLSKA LIFE IP, the extended tool will also be useful for other countries
3. guidance and experience gained from the process of revising the AQPs: a specific guide will be available on preparing awareness-raising plans, included best practices for the municipalities so that they can produce their own plans. During the project implementation a collection of best practices on air quality improvements will be made available and published regularly for municipalities to use
4. mini public bike systems: experience gained from developing these will be transferable to other settlements where similar systems are planned
5. high resolution PM monitoring network: for municipalities where only a limited number of air quality monitoring stations are in operation, further detailed emissions data can provide key information to identify the correct and most efficient responses
6. developing the Green Cadastre and Roof Cadastre will provide the know-how to establish similar systems.
In addition to the IP budget itself the project will facilitate the coordinated use of approx. 326 million in complementary funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), national and private funding, as applicable.