Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Budapest declares climate emergency, teases carbon-neutrality (euractiv.com)
149 points by reddotX 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments

Just as a side note, the photo in the article was taken from an angle that you can't see the "crowd". Even the parliament can be seen from between one of the participants legs.

Making it seem to be a large protest is a well-known deceivement tactic in politics.

There's a few hundred people in those pics.

There are ways to check that. I've used the bridge photo as a reference: https://www.mapchecking.com/#47.4984682,19.0412546;47.498538...

Bottom left of the marked area are those lion statues, while the top right is the lowest point of the chains between the two gates, which is as far as I can see the crowd using that reference. 1 person per meter is a pretty low estimate for a protest walk, but I took it as an average anyway since I can't see the density that far back. I've ended up with 1890 people, and I'd say that pretty much the lowest estimate you can get from that photo.

You're right, the bridge is very narrow and the lens has a very long field, which makes the picture a bit deceptive (useful also to give the impression of a concentrated crowd). The bridge is about 6 metres wide (two narrow car lanes) but the farthest visible point is about 250 metres away. So it could be approximately 1500 square metres, and a crowd of about 1000-2000 people, although those who are actually visible are far less.

Nice tool though, I'll use it again!

There's about as many participants as in a large picnic. "Draws thousands", probably if you don't know how to count.

For comparison, this is during recent Chile protests: https://santiagotimes.cl/2019/10/26/a-million-chileans-march...

I was in Santiago last year, that is a lot of people. At least as big as filling the national Mall from capitol to Washington monument, eg the part with big open fields when you count the ancillary streets in that protest

Hard to take that crowd seriously if the front row is using the taste of vegan lady genitalia as an argument for climate change.

To be frank, I think you might be projecting American prudishness on European (attempts at) humour.

Trying to make a point with humourous signs is pretty common across demonstrations in Europe and using sex jokes for humour is too. I'm not saying that this is a particularly funny one, but I am saying that your reason for not taking a protest seriously says more about you than about the protestors.

(I think the argument about the tiny crowd and the misleading photography is a lot stronger)

> (I think the argument about the tiny crowd and the misleading photography is a lot stronger)

"Stronger" in what sense? I don't understand the point people are trying to make regarding the crowd size at one particular demonstration. Are you suggesting that the Budapest city councilors were somehow "tricked" into approving this motion unanimously, just by showing them a few photos from strange angles?

I'm not making any point really, just that if you're going to draw any conclusion about anything from that photo alone, then "omg that sign says 'pussy'!!1" wouldn't be my first pick.

I think the point people were making/implying is that there is hardly any public support, or interest in this initiative by those who live in the city. It is more a kind of insider baseball between the politicians and the readers of such articles.

I agree we have a prude-ish society but I think there are plenty of great arguments that can be made about the environment without resorting to shock value. I'm not offended by the sign, but I can immediately look at that person holding the sign and know that they don't have a deep, well considered world view...

Wow you can tell all that about a person just by a look at them on a photo?

Declaring emergencies is easy. Wake me when they've implemented carbon taxes and tarrifs.

Sigh, I wish the USA were not leaving the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is a joke. Most countries just signed it then did what they wanted any way. Yes it would be better PR if US signed it and ignored it, but it wouldn't make any difference. https://www.nature.com/news/prove-paris-was-more-than-paper-...

The Paris Agreement is a joke also because there was no universal obligation it imposed. Consider, for instance, the promise China made to stop increasing emissions by 2030. You read that right, _stop increasing_. Not reduce at all. Also, that's about when economists figured emissions would naturally stop increasing in any case. A bunch of nations got together, asked everyone to send in a promise, stapled them all together, and called it a "climate accord".

And yet somehow China is beating everyone else https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-climatechange-carbo...

Funny how even a partially planned economy is more effective.

Don't be tricked by misleading measurement conditions. Their total carbon emissions have been increasing at an explosive rate.


Of course they've been going up, but per capita they might reach equilibrium before NA levels.

Europe is doing quite well on that chart.

[0] https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&...

The glaciers don't care about per-capita.

Not true, It's slippery language (and unauditable Chinese press statements). So if you can spot it!

"China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, cut its 2005 carbon intensity level, or the amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide it produces per unit of economic growth, by 46 percent in 2017, Xie told a forum in Shanghai"

Everyone's emissions are down due to manufacturing slowdowns globally. If you're willing to select a narrow set of data points as this article does, then you can draw any conclusion you want.

If the press paid attention to this, I think we'd have a chance at an agreement that did something.

Instead, it's like a participation trophy for politicians.

Aren't there a bunch of states and cities who still intend to keep pace with the Paris accord?

Many cities have pledged to behold future city administrations to changes that the current administrations themselves will not be responsible for implementing.

Importantly, those cities aren't significant emitters.

It is easy to promise little to no change.

It's better than nothing but I thought the current thinking is that the Paris agreement isn't enough anyway?

Distractions are often worse than nothing.

Fun fact: between 2005 and 2017 the US carbon emissions fell 12.4% on an absolute basis and 19.9% on per-capita basis. The reductions continued under the Trump administration which would suggest that they are economically sensible in their own right. In 2017 we emitted about as much carbon as we did in 1990. That's not perfect: the EU now emits 19% less CO2 than it emitted in 1990, but that's a heck of a lot better than China which now emits twice as much CO2 as the US does, and which was exempt from some of the more aggressive parts of the agreement until 2030 (and isn't at all on track to comply even then). The whole thing was idiotic for the US to sign, irrespective of what you think of climate change: it has no teeth whatsoever against by far the largest polluter, and therefore it's not worth the paper it's written on, and it would not move the needle one iota.


We can still produce less carbon emissions without being in the agreement.

The US is only 20% of total C02 output. Even if it were 0, China and India are still ruining the climate and the Paris accords didn't stop this.

Per-capita doesn't matter. Reality doesn't care about fairness.

20% "only"? USA is 7% of all countries superficies, 4% of all countries population

Also, other countries with higher pollution level should never be a reference or excuse

But the US is over 24% of global GDP [0], so that means we pollute less per unit of Global GDP than the combined rest of the world on average.

I'd say there's room to improve, but if we compared all countries this way, we might have a good conversation.

For instance, Germany may be skewed as high pollution per capita, but roughly 1/2 of their economy is for exports. Penalizing them because they make things there for people around the world wouldn't seem fair.

[0] - https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/24/infographic-heres-how-t...

Yes, it should be an excuse and a reference. If the US is going to ruin its economy by being forced off of fossil fuels, other countries shouldn't be able to use it as an advantage to take power and continue to ruin the environment.

Where would our economy be ruined by transitioning away from fossil fuels? The renewable sector has insane room for growth and employment. The fact that we'd all be way healthier with less pollution in the air and water would lead directly to less medical costs and less time missed from work and higher productivity!

Whether US may or may not reduce emissions is completely irrelevant. There's an accord, and US is out. Period.

It's a prisoner's dilemma[0] instance we are all in, so finger-pointing does not help with anything, for anyone.

Furthermore, countries you point very lightly make up almost half the world population. And their emissions per capita are laughably low(especially India) compared to US.

1: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/prisoners-dilemma.asp

Oh, we're only 20% of a global genocide, so it's okay.

That's what your argument sounds like.

Right. So 80% of a global genocide can be ignored? Two can play this game.

You missed the point. Many people (myself included are concerned about BOTH/All of it. Those who point out that we are responsible for "only" 20% usually have disingenuous motives toward shifting blame on to someone else, and towards inaction.

Well, if only 20% of carbon emissions are cleared, the world is still doomed.

My point is that nobody wants do do anything about the other 80%. No punishment and excuses are given that they are 'developing nations', so they can freely pollute the earth and destroy the environment.

We really should be concentrating o n that 80%, and we aren't, which makes me question the motives of things like the Paris agreement.

While we bend over backwards to save the environment, these nations just use it as a way to boost their own economies while continuing to pollute and break every agreement and lie about it.

Per-land area US is still one of the largest polluters.

That's irrelevant, what matters is absolute production per country, because of politics.

So, the solution to the climate crisis is to split the US into 50 separate countries then? I mean, they could still cooperate in some sort of federation, united in their common goals, some sort of union of states or something, but without the climate impact!

Make slightly more relevant with your personal stance then. Because it is very much relevant.

We need to do something serious greenhouse emissions and gases already in the atmosphere. I was also bummed hearing about Trump pulling us out of the Paris accord, but the lack of inclusion of China and other major greenhouse emitters makes the agreement dangerous. Maybe his 8d chess will actually get us something good where the next president can remove the tariffs in exchange for greenhouse gas controls?

>but the lack of inclusion of China and other major greenhouse emitters makes the agreement dangerous

You may be thinking of the Kyoto protocol, which did exempt "developing" countries like China and India (which I agree is very flawed). The Paris agreement includes China though.

China's Paris commitments were significantly laxer than other nations. Commiting only to stop increasing only by 2030.

There is a vast difference between what China promises to do and what it actually does. For example, it's repeatedly committed to stop massively subsidising its steel and aluminium production and driving everyone else out of business, but has not done so whatsoever. (One of the less widely appreciated results of that is that China's plants produce much more CO2 than the ones they're driving out of business, due to less efficient processes and dirtier power sources.) Climate change is similar - they may have committed to reducing their emissions, but in reality what we've seen is a massive build-out of coal power and heating.

There is a vast difference between what the entire fucking world promised at Paris and what they have actually done since. Only the EU seems to have certain intent to move toward neutrality and their efforts have, at best, been intermittent and inconsistent.

Meanwhile the West keeps sending more business, more manufacturing and more recycling to China - they are, in no small part, merely moving the accounting of the West's emissions. Of course they are also a developing country - it's not realistic for them to do that entirely sustainably without Western subsidy - an idea not discussed seriously since probably Rio in the early 90s, when there was briefly talk of an intent to help the developing world fast-track right past our dirty phase of development. China have been inconsistent about coal too. So have some countries in the best performing bloc, the EU. Notably The Netherlands, Poland and Germany.

You're not wrong, but from a political standpoint it's impossible to justify giving any sort of subsidies to China as long as they're pursuing an expansionist foreign policy and have nuclear missiles pointed at us.

USA, Russia and others point missiles at plenty of places too - that is not a reason or even valid excuse.

I do think it was absurd China (and to a lesser extent India) came out of Paris with an almost limitless potential to increase emissions until 2030. Neither are undeveloped and remotely like the world's poorest.

A more sensible approach would have been to tie subsidy to each, and every trade deal. An EU or USA that truly cared about emissions would impose a carbon or renewables levy on products coming in from China and others. The US would push their pet the WTO to bake in emissions into global trade rules.

Had any of that been done round about Rio, or even as late as Paris, we might have a far more optimistic outlook.

"Everything before the "but" is meant to be ignored by the speaker; and everything after the "but" should be ignored by the listener." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Yes we all know that Taleb is a snarky psuedo intellectual who isn't actually as smart as he thinks he is. You don't need to point that out by reposting his nonsense ramblings.

Yet the actual results have been disappointing. China's carbon emissions have only continued to increase since 2016, whereas most other countries have been decreasing emissions.


>> Although largely symbolic in nature, the climate declaration was adopted by a unanimous vote.

What are the expected changes that actually will help climate change?

"The decision does not contain specific measures, it is more of a set of symbolic commitments: the Assembly vowed to take the environmental effects into account on any matter that directly or indirectly affects CO2 emissions, and also to prioritise the fight against climate change in the city's decisionmaking process, and to increase the transparency of information relating to the climate effects of municipal firms." https://index.hu/english/2019/11/05/budapest_general_assembl...

Maybe someone can hazard a guess of what sense the word emergency is being used here? I don't really follow why there is a trend towards declaring climate emergencies. Is there any call for action that isn't already business as usual for the green parties?

I'm also glad to see a green policy that is, if not pro-nuclear, at least accepting that it is a reasonable target for financing.

Simply because it is an emergency. The extremely conservative IPCC has set out the timeline for changes on emissions, and we have ten years left. Ten years to get on the track to carbon neutrality. Leave it longer and we lock in a higher temperature rise. The longer the delay the more serious the consequences. Yet many countries and politicians keep pretending it's business as usual.

Seems to adequately fit under emergency as immediate threat to me.

In what sense are the IPCC conservative? They've overestimated temperature changes since their first analysis in 1990.

Maybe calling institutions "conservative" because they are the lowest of the over estimators is part of the problem here?

Nearly all surprises are of how much faster than predicted events are happening. IPCC have consistently under-estimated:


They are, after all, an intergovernmental UN body, which includes representatives from the oil states and countries that are "unconvinced" by climate heating. Yet IPCC reports require unanimity. Thus what gets published is the least contentious, least offensive spin possible - the version that even the oil states and coal exporters can agree.

Saudi has tried to significantly tone down reports to protect their oil interests:


"Climate emergency" is the slogan of the recent Extinction Rebellion protest movement, that's why.

The word 'emergency' is being used to freshen up the rhetoric.

It generally just makes everybody else roll their eyes.

Why trust experts right? The people know best.

> What are the expected changes that actually will help climate change?

When whole countries are denying there's a problem, I think countries stepping forward to declare there's a problem to be addressed is a (sad but) necessary first step.

This is where we disagree. There are many countries which are not denying the existence of climate change, part of the Paris agreement (btw. it is very questionable if the targets of that are actually what we need), they just do not care because the fear-mongering of voters pushed the country to a certain way. A prime example is Germany. Not denying climate change, anti-nuclear propaganda took over and this is how Germany is the number one source of CO2 in the EU (by volume).


I think it is not enough to put out meaningless virtue signaling, you have to back it up with rock-solid policy otherwise it is only good to win you over some votes (which is the reason politicians use it at the first place).

Been to budapest last year the air there smelled of cigarette smoke way too much of it. Other European cities have cleaner air.

Just as note, people underestimate the pollution volume from cigarettes, because they are small I guess, but since millions are smoked every day in countries like France, it makes a lot

I estimated that PM2.5 pollution from cigarettes can represent up to 5% of vehicle traffic pollution (estimation made for Paris, using their data of traffic pollution, and cigarette sales)

Also, when someone is smoking in his idling car in traffic jams, there's actually more pollution coming out from his cigarette than from the rest of the car (cf that old paper https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6312-cigarettes-more-...)

Of course it's just one factor among others, but each of them is worth efforts

Not sure about the downvotes, but I live here for more than a decade and I agree. The city is very car friendly and not much was done to mitigate this. At least we have a new mayor now who's somewhat likely do do actually something.

Romania doesn't really have much industry, so it emits 0.25% of global CO2. Even if they went carbon negative it wouldn't have made one iota of difference.


What does Romania have to do with anything?

Sorry, got Hungary confused with Romania. But that doesn't change the conclusion: Hungary is 0.13% of global emissions and has even less industry than Romania.

Not directly related, but if anyone is living in Budapest and would like to hang out some time, email me (email in profile).

Under-developed countries have a unique opportunity to develop sustainable growth. I applaud this, despite it being symbolic. Would great to see Hungary invest in things such as green tech and fast trains as it develops.

Hungary is pretty far from underdeveloped :) http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/underdeveloped-co...

We have nuclear power plants and stuff.

In terms of political maturity we are not much better than a banana republic :)

So do 3rd world countries. It's all fun and games in Budapest, until you go around in villages where people walk barefoot. Last time i've been there I thought about taking pictures as the nationalist government of hungary does its best to hide it. But the issue is not that, the thing is it does have an opportunity to develop into something green, as do most east EU countries.

BTW I hope you realise that the original meaning of "3rd world country" included extremely rich countries like Sweden and Switzerland - basically, all countries not aligned with "1st world" (United States and Western NATO countries) and "2nd world" (Soviet block) where Hungary was.

Hungary is not as rich as e.g. Germany, but it's certainly not a backward country; it has indigenous culture that runs universities and is comfortably in the "Very high HDI" bracket for human development.


Yeah, I grown up in a village at the north-eastern (the least developed part of the country) border with 2500 people living there. My first 10 years was during socialism.

Even my “underdeveloped” village has now 24/7 electricity, water, sewer system, gas pipelines for heating, CATV and ADSL internet.

So please stop try to prove me, that it is a 3rd world country.

How many of these villages, once you leave the bubble, have roma people living in mud-homes and other vulnerable people that you so cleverly chose to ignore, and claim the everything is fine?

That's like judging the development level of the US by examining the Amish.



Flamewar comments like this will get you banned on HN, regardless of how bad or provocative other comments have been. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting here.

Have you ever been to Budapest? I've been twice, I wouldn't call it under-developed

Hey, I have seen a WW2 documentary I have good idea how whole Eastern Europe looks like. Fields and mud roads /s (i am from eastern Europe).

I really wish to know the root cause for persistence of this label. Its not that surprising for US, but surprising amount of western Europeans tend to share this view.

I suspect it relates to:

Relative wealth - it's progressed rapidly but Eastern Europe is still generally poorer than Western.

Cultural differences - Eastern Europe has a reputation for far greater cultural conservatism, religiosity, etc. . Perhaps this reputation is unearned, I don't know. It correlates to "out of date" for many western Europeans though.

Lack of exposure - plenty of people in Western Europe study French, German, English - fewer study Hungarian.

Lack of reference material - for a long time views of Eastern Europe were based entirely on being behind the iron curtain, and we've only had about a generation since then to build material.

Media coverage - Based on the news I know that Hungary is run by a far right would-be dictator, or that Poland wants to cut down the last primeval forest in Europe, etc. and not much else.

That being said I think it's changing. Slovenia is often viewed in a positive light (I adore Ljubljana for instance, and it's the only country I know with real light pollution legislation!) and if nothing else I see Eastern European cities/countries being recommended as holiday destinations more as time goes on.

Though I'm an American who lives in Ireland. Not sure if views are changing in the states; some people seem to think Ireland is still mostly thatched cottages and sheep farms.

I am from eastern Europe too. It is fine to try and promote one's country, but denying facts doesn't help us either. Been to Hungary a few times, it lags behind central and western european countries by a high margin. Budapest is fine, but life is pretty rough around there. Anyway we are diverging and diving into open wounds.

Edit: As a side note, the persistence of that label might be because of the persistence of our societies in isolating from the majority of our countries, ignoring problems, and calling it progress just because a minority lives way better than the average. Unless we stick our heads up, acknowledge the issues, and solve them, then no amount of political correctness will save us.

> but surprising amount of western Europeans tend to share this view.

People are ignorant and have prejudices, and prejudices don't shake easily. It's not like there aren't similar prejudices about western Europe (Italy is filled with crime! Irish are drunk! etc).

The rise of low cost flight in Europe has thrown down barriers and people travel more, but it's only a tiny minority of the population who decides to travel to eastern european destinations.

Budapest isn't the whole country, but your point is correct, Hungary is certainly a highly developed country. Not G7 levels, but close.

So poorer countries are going to skip a vital step in their development process and start producing "green tech" and "fast trains", easy as that? Doubt it.

Well yeah. This isn't a game like Civilization where countries lagging behind have to develop the steam engine while everyone else is on space age tech. You can put solar panels in Africa today.

If you talk strictly about technology, you may be right. But I wonder if technological advancement without organic societal advancement may be even detrimental. Something along the lines what Isaac Asimov said: "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact