Clean Air Action Group: No one should be forced to choose between freezing to death and environmental pollution

The Clean Air Action Group finds it unacceptable that many people must choose: either they freeze to death or get sick due to air pollution in Hungary. The NGO has taken several initiatives, which, if implemented, would allow everyone to avoid health-damaging heating systems.

The Clean Air Action Group finds it unacceptable that more than 14,000 Hungarian citizens die annually from air pollution. On average, these people could live 11 years longer inhaling clean air. Nor should we accept that a thousand times more diseases are also caused by air pollution. Children are particularly susceptible to illness from air pollution. They could become permanently asthmatic and have a much higher risk of suffering from cancer as adults.

We cannot allow ourselves to be in a situation where people are forced to choose between their family freezing to death or risking others’ health by using illegal fuels. We need to act to raise awareness about the harmful effects of illegal fuels. Last year the Clean Air Action Group took several initiatives to help impoverished people to get firewood for free or at a low cost. In a joint letter with Greenpeace, they asked János Lázár, the Minister of Prime Minister’s Office, to make the government provide firewood for those in need. After the initiative Róbert Benedek Sallai, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Sustainable Development, submitted an amendment to the 2017 budget bill, which would provide HUF 20 billion for social firewood and other measures for people in need. However, the proposal was not accepted by the Parliament. The Clean Air Action Group has written several letters to Mihály Varga, the Minister of National Economy, asking for the necessary resources to be provided, but only vague answers were received. This has happened despite the fact that the losses caused by illnesses and death cost more to the state than they should spend on prevention.

The Clean Air Action Group expects the government to take the necessary steps to remove Hungary from the list of European countries where most people die as a result of air pollution.

Translated by Noémi Koncz