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EU Environment Council addresses air quality, GMO, climate change and biodiversity

2014-06-13

On the 12th of June, the Environment Council of the European Union, including the Minister of Environment, Valentinas Mazuronis, addressed issues of air quality, genetically modified organisms (GMO), climate change and biodiversity.

The Council also continued the discussion on the new climate change and energy policy for 2030. This time the ministers identified the sectors in the their countries that have the highest potential of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also pointed to the sectors that will face the greatest challenges when it comes to implementing the future policy for climate change and energy.

The ministers expressed the need to make use of the existing EU funding instruments such as EU Structural Funds or the Cohesion Fund and to attract other financial institutions like the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or the European Regional Development Fund.

The Minister of Environment, Valentinas Mazuronis, noted that the transport and agricultural sectors had the greatest potential in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Lithuania. However, these sectors are already facing challenges when it comes to implementing the goals of the EU 2020 policy. These sectors will obviously remain a challenge in the future. “It is important for us that the specific nature of these sectors is taken into account and cost-efficient opportunities of reducing their greenhouse emissions are considered while shaping the future policy for climate and energy,” Mr Mazuronis said.

The Council reached political agreement on the regulation which has been considered since 2010 and aims to enable the Member States to restrict and prohibit growing GMOs on their territories. “Lithuania has been consistently seeking this opportunity and has been proactive involved in the discussions at the Council. A clearer definition of the procedural mechanism for restricting or prohibiting growing GMOs and of the related aspects will ensure a better better legal framework for GMOs,” Mr Mazuronis pointed out.

The Council addressed the documents from the air package concerning environmental quality and human health. The Medium Combustion Plants Directive is one of those documents. Lithuania already regulates operation of such combustion plants: pollutant emission rates have been established for different-sized plants, a system for issuing authorisations for pollutant emissions to ambient air has been in place and requirements have been set for pollutant count, reporting and plant control. “Lithuania favours the proposal and its aims, but the chosen instruments must be proportional and should not cause negative socio-economic effects,” Mr Mazuronis said.

The national proposal for a pollutant emission directive aims to accelerate implementation of the pollution reduction goals and compliance with the ambient air quality standards. It is the most challenging instrument of the air package.

What Lithuania finds acceptable is a phased reduction of air pollution and regularisation of internationally agreed pollution reduction goals for 2020.
The Minister expressed doubts as regards the proposed pollution reduction goals for 2030. “For our country they have been set based on a scenario that a nuclear power plant starts operating in 2025. There has been no final decision whether or not a new nuclear power plant will be operating in 2030, therefore we would like to have the opportunity to review the goals based on reasonable forecasts of the Member States,” the Minister pointed out.

The environment minister of Greece, which is rounding up its EU presidency, thanked Mr Mazuronis for constructive contributions at the Environment Council and wished him success working at the European Parliament.

Public information division
13 June 2014

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