Hungary climate resilience policy indicator

Source(s)
International Energy Agency

Country summary

  • Hungary’s annual average temperature rose 1.15°C between 1907 and 2017, outpacing the global average temperature change (+0.9°C). Its warming rate has increased significantly over the last four decades, with summertime warming particularly strong. The upward temperature trend is likely to continue, with a more marked increase in summer and autumn temperatures in the eastern and southern parts of the country.
  • Although no significant trend in annual precipitation has been detected or forecast, Hungary is at high risk for floods and at medium risk for droughts. There have also been changes in the seasonality of flood and drought risks and in regional precipitation patterns. These changes could intensify in some regions and challenge energy supply security by limiting coolant water availability and increasing the occurrence of floods.
  • Hungary has committed to tackle climate change through its National Climate Change Strategies. The National Adaptation Strategy, part of the country’s Second National Climate Change Strategy, recognises the importance of climate resilience in the energy sector and proposes an action plan. Major energy plans refer to the National Adaptation Strategy to address the impacts of climate change on the energy system.

Climate hazard assessment

Temperature

Long-term trends show that Hungary’s annual average temperature increased by 1.15°C between 1907 and 2017, exceeding the global temperature rise (+0.9°C) over the same period, with considerable seasonal disparities (spring and summer have been heating up more quickly than autumn and winter).

The warming rate increased significantly in the last four decades, particularly for the summer, affecting the Mecsek, the central Danube region and the eastern part of the country the most. Since 2000, the average rate of warming has been higher (0.0570°C per year) than the global average (0.0318°C per year). Hungary’s temperature change is linked to a decrease in the number of frost days and an increase in hot days. The greatest increase in the frequency of hot days has been in central and southern Hungary.

Future trends indicate seasonal and geographical disparities. Warming will be more visible in the east and south, and the average temperature will increase more quickly in the summer and autumn than in the winter and spring. Projections show far fewer frost days by mid-century compared to 1961-1990, while more summer days and extreme heat days are expected.

Having a warmer average temperature could affect Hungary’s energy supply and demand. According to Hungary’s Seventh National Communication and Third Biennial Report to the UNFCCC in 2017, the temperature rise could result in fewer heating degree days (HDDs) and consequently reduce natural gas consumption. However, higher temperatures and more frequent extreme heat events are likely to increase the number of cooling degree days (CDDs) and drive up summer demand for air conditioning, leading to higher electricity consumption. Warming could also affect the country’s energy supply by raising the temperature of the coolant water used for thermal generators, reducing their generation efficiency.

Precipitation

Although no significant annual precipitation trend covering the past 50 years was detected for the country as a whole, some geographical and seasonal trends are evident. In the western areas of Transdanubia, total precipitation has declined compared to the middle of last century with some areas receiving 15% less. However, this drop is counterbalanced by an increase in the Nagykunság and Nyírség areas as well as in the Sajó Valley and in Bodrogköz. In terms of seasonal variations, precipitation has decreased in the spring and autumn while summer rainfall has become less frequent but more intense. Changing precipitation patterns could put additional stress on the country, which is already exposed to a medium level of drought incidence and high flood risk.

Although no significant annual precipitation changes are forecast, seasonal rainfall patterns are projected to change. While summer precipitation could decrease by up to 20% by the end of the century (compared with 1961-1990), autumn rainfall could increase by as much as 14%. By 2050, dry periods are likely to last longer during the summer, and less rainfall could threaten electricity supply security by limiting coolant water availability for thermal power generators.

At the same time, however, the number of days with more than 20 mm of precipitation is very likely to increase in all seasons except summer by the end of the century. Precipitation events are expected to be more intense by mid-century, particularly in the autumn, and the simultaneous rise in rainfall frequency and intensity could increase the occurrence of flash floods in hilly regions and groundwater floods in the lowlands.

Tropical cyclones and storms

Although Hungary rarely experiences tropical cyclones, storms in recent years have had negative impacts on the energy sector, particularly the electricity network. Strong winds can either directly damage electricity infrastructure or can cause disruptions indirectly by toppling trees and branches onto power lines. Indeed, a June 2018 storm that hit the Southern Great Plain caused trees to fall onto electricity transmission lines, leaving nearly 100 000 people without power.

Storm effects can be further amplified by heavy rains that weaken the stability of trees and power lines. For instance, strong winds and heavy rains in the summer of 2016 damaged both the medium- and low-voltage networks of Bacs-Kiskun County, cutting power to 80 000 customers. Damage to the grid was severe, so some customers had to wait as long as 4 days to have electricity restored.

Policy readiness for climate resilience

Hungary has committed to tackle climate change through its National Climate Change Strategies. Its parliament adopted the first National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS 1) in 2008 and reviewed it in 2013. Based on lessons learned from the NCCS 1, the NCCS 2 for 2014-2025 was formulated and introduced. The NCCS 2 has since been updated, and in 2018 the parliament approved the revised NCCS 2 for 2018-2030. It comprises three sub-documents aligned with the three pillars of Hungary’s climate policy: the National Decarbonisation Roadmap for Mitigation; the National Adaptation Strategy; and the Climate Change Awareness-Raising Action Plan.

The National Adaptation Strategy recognises the importance of energy sector climate resilience and proposes an action plan accordingly. It specifies energy management as a priority area for adaptation actions, highlighting the importance of understanding how climate change affects energy security, and it identifies short-term (2018-2020), mid-term (2021-2030) and long-term (2031-2050) priorities and tasks. For example, it aims to: integrate climate risk mitigation into power plant and energy infrastructure planning in the short term; review measures in the medium term; and achieve full integration of climate change into energy policy in the long term.

To effectively put an adaptation strategy in place, implementation will be based on four consecutive three-year Climate Change Action Plans (CCAPs). Each CCAP contains a detailed description of different measures based on the NCCS 2’s short-term sectoral actions, and clarifies responsibilities and financing. The National Adaptation Centre carried out research to develop the CCAPs, with the first one adopted by the government in January 2020 and the second one already developed. The government adoption procedure is currently ongoing.

Regional strategies and assessments also support climate change adaptation in Hungary. In recent years, counties have been formulating their own climate change strategies and setting up county climate platforms. In addition, regional climate vulnerability assessments have been conducted under the framework of the National Adaptation Geo-information System, which was launched in 2016.

Major energy plans such as the National Energy Strategy 2030, the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan until 2020 and the National Building Energy Performance Strategy mention the importance of climate change adaptation and resilience in the energy sector, referring to the National Adaptation Strategy, although they do not prioritise it or elaborate on this topic further.

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