Levego Munkacsoport (The Clean Air Action Group) is one of the most famous and oldest ecological organizations in Hungary. It was founded in 1988 by three local ecological groups. Levego deals with research, consulting and social campaigns on a local, national and international level. The main areas of Levego’s work are:
- sustainable transport;
- sustainable energy policy;
- sustainable urban development;
- green budget reform;
- air pollution;
- protection of green areas in cities.
Levego does not run campaigns directly aimed against open-pit lignite mining in Hungary. However, in September 2012, they began a program called “Clean air!”. This project is aimed at the government, local governments, transport firms, and also directly to citizens, in order to work together to have cleaner air. The problem here is burning lignite for heat in households. This causes an exceptional amount of air pollution which the inhabitants then breathe.
The organization is currently working out an effective method of improving the quality of the air. The “Clean air” project is supported by the European Union program LIFE +.
Levego aims to obtain an official ban on burning lignite in private households. The organization calculated emissions from burning lignite in private households and it turned out that they emit much more PM2.5 particulate and sulfur dioxide than power plants. According to Levego, this amount of pollution may be the cause of 131 – 176 deaths annually.
The organization is putting pressure on the Agriculture Ministry (which is responsible for environmental protection) to pass a law completely banning the burning of lignite and low quality high sulfur content brown coal in private households. At the moment, there are no official rules designating the quality norms of burnt coal.
Position on the International Coalition project “Development Yes – Opencast Mines No”:
- they are interested in collaborating; they wish to remain in contact and to be informed of the project’s progress;
- examples of our social campaigns dealing with air pollution are helpful for them;
- they have one friendly contact in the European Parliament;
- our Polish-German lignite report would be useful to them;
- they like the declaration and they postulate to add a point dealing with low emissions;
- “success stories” are always helpful.