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Will Air Pollution in Lithuania Be Reduced by 2020?

2014-04-14

The main international legal act regulating air pollution is the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and its protocols. In one of the protocols, known as the Gothenburg Protocol, pollution limits are set for the countries, meaning that the biggest amount of each pollutant specified in that protocol that can be emitted in the country's territory per year.

After lengthy international negotiations, this protocol was changed at the beginning of 2012, and goals for emission reduction compared with the amounts emitted in 2005 were set for the period until 2020. The quite rigorous emission reduction objectives were set for the countries and for the entire European Union, seeking to solve at least part of the health and environmental problems related to air pollution: to reduce human morbidity and the number of premature deaths due to air pollution, degraded ecosystems, volume, etc.

It was established in the revised Gothenburg Protocol that Lithuania should reduce by 2020 (compared with 2005) the amount of sulphur dioxide emissions -- 55 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions -- 48 percent, volatile organic compounds -- 32 percent, small solid particles (SSP 2.5) -- 20 percent, ammonia -- 10 percent.

SIA Estonian, Latvian & Lithuanian Environment, commissioned by the Ministry of Environment in 2013-2014, evaluated how to reduce air pollution by 2020 and perhaps to take on additional emission reduction commitments.

Project organizers identified the main sources of each pollutant specified in the protocol, analyzed pollution abatement (control) problems in Lithuania and other European Union countries, and the countries' good practice in the management of air pollution and quality. Taking into account the results of the research and provisions of the Lithuania strategic documents, it assessed in what areas it would be possible to achieve the maximum effect of reducing emissions for each pollutant.

Since during the implementation of the project the European Commission submitted, at the end of 2013, a proposal for setting emission reduction targets for the European Union and for each of its Member States not only by 2020 (were similar objectives as in the revised in 2012 Gothenburg Protocol were proposed), but also by 2030, the project organizers additionally analyzed Lithuania's capability of adopting long-term objectives proposed by the Commission.

The project evaluation results showed that seeking the emission reduction targets established in the Gothenburg Protocol by 2020, Lithuania will have to implement additional measures in some areas to reduce pollution, meaning to apply additional selected measures at its own discretion to reduce emissions more than required by the European Union legal acts.

According to the forecasts, additional measures may not be necessary to reduce pollution with volatile organic compounds and ammonia. The pollution reduction target for small solid particles SSP2.5 and other combustion-related emissions will largely depend on whether Lithuania decided to have a nuclear power plant in the country.

Public Information Division
14-04-2014

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas