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Hungarian energy companies step up to achieve 2050 climate goals

Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology initiated a series of roundtable discussion with stakeholders to exchange thoughts on the possible ways to achieve the 2050 climate neutrality targets envisaged by the European Union and endorsed by the Hungarian government.

Péter Kaderják, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Policy and host of the roundtable discussions, presented the government’s climate and energy strategy set out in the Climate and Nature Protection Plan adopted last month. Mr Kaderják emphasised that climate change is a challenge that we have to face together and everyone must play their part within their means and capabilities.

“The current epidemiological situation cannot slow down the steps we plan to make in order to achieve our long-term climate goals,” he added.

Hungary is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 on the condition that the costs of transitioning to a climate-neutral economy must primarily be borne by the major polluters, meaning large companies. Therefore, climate commitments from the part of big energy companies are crucial to make the 2050 pledge realistic, as more than 70 per cent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are energy-related.

The participants of the first roundtable discussion presented the steps that, according to their annual reports, their companies have taken or plan to take to meet the climate objectives.

Leading Hungarian oil and gas firm, MOL Group anticipates a gradual decline in fuel sales and works on the development of its future product portfolio, positioning the group to meet future demand for cleaner fuel, sustainable mobility solutions and renewable energy, while also reducing direct and indirect GHG emissions through energy efficiency initiatives.

As a member of the international E.ON Group, reduction of GHG emissions is a cornerstone of the sustainability strategy of E.ON Hungária as well with an ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2040. The company plans to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and by 100 per cent by 2040 (compared to 2019).

MET Group, with activities in the natural gas, power and oil sector, has many aspirations in renewable energy production in Central and Eastern Europe. This year the company has started construction on the largest element of its Hungarian renewables portfolio an almost 70-hectare solar park with an installed power capacity of 43 megawatts (MW).

One of the biggest challenges of Hungarian state-owned electric company MVM Group is the sustainable transformation of its recently purchased Mátrai Erőmű (Mátra Power Plant), which is Hungaryʼs second-biggest power plant, covering 17 per cent of the domestic energy demand. According to the plans, a 500 MW gas turbine power plant, possibly based on gas from renewable sources, will replace the highly polluting coal plant, while a solar panel park would be installed on the site of the mine.

Alteo is one of the representatives of impact investment in Hungary and aims from the beginning to operate as an environmentally and socially sustainable and responsible company. Among many other forward-looking projects, Alteo launched an R&D project to develop a battery storage facility which is considered to be unique in the region to integrate weather-dependent wind and solar power plants into the company’s portfolio as well as to the Hungarian electricity network.

Raising awareness of corporate responsibility for climate-related risks is essential to achieve positive change. According to a recent report of the global initiative Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), more than 80 per cent of the highest-emitting listed companies remain off track for limiting climate change to 2 degrees. Companies in the oil and gas sector lag significantly behind in carbon performance, while electric utilities are performing better reducing their emissions intensity by approximately four per cent per year. The numbers suggest that energy companies must consistently reinvent themselves and systematically focus on delivering solutions for the decarbonisation of the energy world.

Thus, the initiative of the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology to involve large energy companies in the deliberation process of the National Clean Development Strategy can encourage these companies to integrate climate change risk into their business strategies. The Ministry plans to continue the dialogue with stakeholders from various industrial sectors to draft a National Clean Development Strategy based on broad consensus by the end of the year.

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