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Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán (Credit: © European Union 2015 - European Parliament)

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Who had Hungary in the net zero sweepstake?

The eastern European country took observers by surprise this week when it set a climate neutrality goal for 2050 in law. Viktor Orbán’s increasingly authoritarian regime is not the first to spring to mind as a climate leader.

It is perhaps no coincidence the law followed a day after Hungary issued a €1.5 billion green bond, lending it an extra sheen of credibility.

One Hungarian climate expert, speaking from the safety of Canada, slammed the bond as “greenwashing”, saying it would only enrich Orbán’s cronies in the railway sector and not bring the economic transformation needed.

The law, at 3 pages including the cover sheet, is light on detail. Still, it is something for Hungary’s civil society, media and the judiciary to hold the government accountable for, with what little independence they have left.

This week’s stories…

…and climate conversations

Quiet momentum

Before coronavirus threw everything into disarray, this was the week climate negotiators were expected to make progress on technical issues in Bonn.

Instead, UN Climate Change is running a series of virtual events under the vague heading “June Momentum”. Apparently the bureaucrats do not consider media coverage to be important to maintaining momentum, judging by the total absence of press conferences from the schedule.

Undeterred, Chloé Farand dug into the latest developments.

Japan stepped up to lead ministerial talks on greening the economic recovery from coronavirus.

The poorest countries warned the pandemic was further delaying support to help vulnerable communities cope with climate shocks.

Project developers are struggling to find cash for carbon-cutting projects in developing countries, with uncertainty over the design of international carbon markets set to continue until November 2021 at the earliest.

And participant numbers are likely to be capped when negotiators next meet in person, provisionally in October, raising concerns about transparency and inclusion.

Read more on: Climate Politics