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Csaba Vaszko

Csaba Vaszko's picture
I am a sustainability expert with 15+ years demonstrated experience in climate change, energy, regional Just Transition and energy poverty alleviation.
Currently I'm working as an external expert for several Hungarian NGOs , the Hungarian government and as an individual consultant, mainly on climate change and energy issues, with special interest in the coal phase-out and regional Just Transition in Hungary and energy poverty alleviation in the CEE region.
I am particularly interested in the Hungarian coal/lignite sector and their role in the residential heating. More than 100,000 households use lignite for home heating. Lignite is an extremely harmful fossil fuel that has direct negative impact on health. Many of these households live in villages in the Matra region where the Matra Power Plant is operating and selling lignite directly to households.
Besides, Hungarian villages – especially at peripheral areas – face several substantial challenges currently, of which high and increasing energy costs and low energy efficiency is a major one. In particular, poor rural communities are effected by fuel poverty. They have lower and uncertain icome sources, they have been seriously hit by the increasing fossil fuel and firewood prices and they live in low-efficient, poorly insulated buildings. Illegal logging and electricity theft is typical in villages with significant roma population. The area was a beautiful mosaic of sparsely forested floodplain grasslands wetlands (e.g. oxbows) and floodplain softwood forests. Many landscapes and species remain, but far less in number than before. Due to the rapid expansion of invasive species the original vegetation has been forced back along the river. Amorpha fruticosa is an invasive plant which is bad for biodiversity and reduces flood capacity, and it has colonised large areas of floodplain. This is also a symptom of climate change. On the other hand the most invasive species proved to be a very promising energy source due to the high caloric value.
I have been working with a local community of a village on a floodplain restoration project next to the River Tisza in north-eastern Hungary. This initiative is intended to support local green energy generation, enhance flood security, and prevent floodplain destruction as a result of invasive species infestation.
As a solution the invasive shrubs are eradicated and utilized as energy source for both local public buildings and energy companies that need sustainable biomass supply.
The local community receives new, local energy source from the floodplain which is cheaper than natural gas and less harmful. They also receive a nicer, more attractive landscape. More room for the river is achieved.
I am looking for allies (research institutes, communities etc.) who are involved in energy poverty alleviation, community based programmes and Just Transition initiatives in post-coal mining regions.