International conference on the problem of air pollution caused by domestic heating

On February 27, 2018, the Ombudsman for Future Generations, together with the Hungarian Clean Air Action Group, in partnership with the German Deutsche Umwelthilfe and the Danish Ecological Council organized an international conference on the problem of air pollution caused by domestic heating. Nearly 80 experts attended this event, representing the competent ministries, environmental authorities and non-governmental organizations.

According to the European Environmental Agency’s 2017 Air Quality in Europe Report, exposure to air pollution causes more than 14,000 premature deaths per year in Hungary. Air pollution is the most severe environmentally induced health problem in Hungary. Air pollution is primarily caused by domestic heating, the use of outworn heating facilities and wrong heating practices, and the burning of harmful substances. According to the European Commission, poor air quality costs more than HUF 1500 billion per year to the Hungarian economy, including the loss of 3 million working days due to health problems.

Ombudsman for Future Generations Gyula Bándi emphasized that the socially disadvantaged status of those who engage in harmful heating practices cannot in itself preclude the wrongfulness of violating basic human rights of others, including the right to health and right to a healthy environment. The state has a responsibility to actively protect the quality of the air, by enacting prohibitions but also by employing supporting and controlling mechanisms. European Union legislation provides a number of regulations aiming at promoting better air quality, the proper implementation of which may be of key importance.