Hungary Today’s interview with János Áder

Meanwhile a significant, partly American movement was launched, with the participation of so-called “sub-sovereign actors” with whom we need to look for possibilities of cooperation – this is what I proposed to the Secretary-General and this is what we also discussed with Mike Bloomberg in July. The aggregate population of these cities, federal states and provinces who make up to so-called “Under 2.0” movement is close to 1.2 billion and they represent 40% of the world’s GDP. They are thus significant economic players and dedicated city leaders, who know what they want and how they want to go about it, so it is not only about words for them, they are actually doing something for climate change. Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, sets an excellent example by leading the way.
I proposed that we should also include them. The USA may have withdrawn, so let them join instead. We will have dedicated people on board, since they are supported by many, and most probably these particular cities, provinces, and federal states have provided examples – projects and climate protection agreements – that others can follow. All this is a more direct way of dedicated climate protection, than organizing further political events and reading out speeches filled with platitudes to each other. From what I see, there seems to be openness to this: there is a good chance that they may already attend the COP23 climate forum which will be organized in Bonn. If not, then, they will surely be there in December in Paris, now that French President Macron has also clearly committed himself to this cause.
I hope that these new actors will not only be flag bearers, but also engines during the next two years, since the task at hand is nothing less than not only enforcing, but actually speeding up the implementation of the Paris Agreement. If everyone was to only honour the Agreement, we would still be far away from the desired common objective of keeping the temperature increase on the planet under two degrees Celsius. We will need further pledges and commitments, which these organizations can help to promote.

– So, you say that achieving the objectives set forth in the Paris Agreement will not be enough?

– It will not be enough. If everybody delivered on the Paris Agreement – and the USA has at this moment rejected it – that they have deposited with the UN Secretary-General, even then we would only be at 2.7 degrees Celsius. This is the best-case scenario – the worst case is 3 degrees. There have been temperature increases of 3 degrees in Earth’s history and those had dramatic consequences.

– Based on your visit to the USA this time and having attended the side-events of the UN General Assembly, what is your assessment, Mr. President, will the USA renege on its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement?

– Mother Nature has recently sent a rather dramatic and serious warning to the United States. If decision-makers do not learn from this, especially if this disaster repeats itself, then the people living here will have to endure a series of natural calamities that they have not seen here in the past 100-200 years. But, if they do not believe their own eyes, then how could I or anyone else convince them that climate change is an existing phenomenon?
What is most important, and this is not me saying this, but former Vice President Al Gore at an event during the week, is that if the initiatives we have discussed (Jerry Brown, Michael Bloomberg etc.) will be successful and if the different federal states (like California) and cities joining the movement deliver on their pledges – to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 26-28% – then the Paris undertakings can still be met, regardless of Trump withdrawing the USA or not. The bottom line is that all those who are committed can help to ensure that much of the USA’s pledges are still met.

Reporting by Tom Szigeti

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