Germans help us to introduce environment protective technologies, business refuse to pay for it

Each resident of Ukraine emitted 105.5 kg of pollutants from the total volume in 2015. In this volume, emissions from personal vehicles were (64.7%) – (1,075.9 thousand tonnes in total). Emissions from industrial vehicles amounted to 144.7 thousand tons (8.7%), railway transport – 29.7 thousand tons (1.8%), aviation – 8.5 thousand tons (0.5%), water transport – 5.8 thousand tons (0.3%). This is the data from the annual National Report on the State of the Environment in Ukraine for 2015. More recent data has not yet been made public, as the report is printed with a two-year delay due to the lengthy procedure of information collection and processing.

Is it too much? Or is too little? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 74 Ukrainians out of every hundred thousand die each year just because of harm from ultrafine particulate emissions. Another ranking of countries by the level of air pollution in 2016 was released by the British organization “The Eco Experts”, collecting data from the WHO and the International Energy Agency. Among the nations with the highest number of deaths from polluted air are Turkmenistan (108 people per 100,000), Tajikistan (89), Uzbekistan (85), Egypt (77) and China (70). Ukraine is listed as a country with 91-105 deaths per 100,000 population and is not among the top ten most toxic countries in terms of air quality, according to the research of StopFake portal.

To be honest, there is no point in rejoicing over this indicator, because we are far from being leaders in clean air. But there is good news. The other day, the Best Available Techniques and Management Methods (BATM) for Ukraine project was launched. This is a joint project of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine (MENR) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. BATM are the most environmentally effective technologies developed with regard to industrial sectors and the economic feasibility of their implementation. The expected result of the introduction of  BATM by an industrial facility is the achievement of ambitious low levels of pollution: emissions of pollutants into the air, discharges of wastewater into water bodies and waste water from enterprises into sewage systems, pollution of soil or groundwater as a consequence of waste management operations, etc.

The total project budget is €10 million. The money will be used to help develop the legal framework, strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Environment, translate the part of the BATM into Ukrainian, pilot projects and their implementation, develop mechanisms for investment in enterprise modernization measures and develop a relevant law.

At a press conference to mark the launch of the project, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine for European Integration Mykola Kuzio said that the best available technologies are descriptions of technological standards that show what industrial enterprises should (and can – because they are the most available technologies) strive for now. This makes it possible to set clear goals and to regulate the process of reducing the harmful effects of industry.

“We have to adapt these documents in Ukraine, – said Mr Kuzio. – The risks of the project are in the capacity, the ability of our industry to implement these standards. But an additional incentive for them is to increase their competitiveness if they succeed. They should also be spurred on by the appropriate attitude towards their partners abroad. There are 34 BATM in total, in various sectors and we are translating them. Trainings and study tours of specialists from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, other executive authorities and enterprises are envisaged. The creation of an electronic information system will make it possible to keep records of actual amounts of industrial pollution, as well as to provide access to information on emissions”.

An important part of the project should be the development and implementation of an integrated permit, i.e. a document that will show the cumulative effect of the enterprise’s impact on the environment and human health. It will include all types of emissions, noise pollution and other impacts. The draft law being developed will provide for public participation in the development and issuance of such a permit.

The deputy minister also said that the Czech experience of direct subsidies and tax exemptions to enterprises that advocate improvement of the emission situation is being studied. But first it is necessary to understand what to give and how much to give. In order to do so, enterprises must have certain ecological requirements included in their legislation and standards must be formulated. Then, in order to achieve the standards which are already clear, there will also be support from the European Union, and you can think about such support from the government.

According to Rita Schwarzelur-Zutter, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the BATM project for Ukraine is an important element in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement (agreement on preventing catastrophic climate change) and the long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – the main culprits of global warming on Earth. Best Available Techniques and Management Practices is one of the key elements of the reform of the industrial pollution permit system, as it will provide each industry with individual sectoral documents on the most environmentally effective technologies.

BATM Practices are developed with the participation of scientists, industrialists and the public of EU Member States, taking into account the characteristics of the industrial sectors, the environmental impact and the economic viability of their implementation. The conclusions of the project are approved by the European Commission and are binding in the EU countries.

The BATM project for Ukraine will affect all production plants and all sectors of the Ukrainian economy that have a significant impact on the environment. In response to a question from Active Citizens about the success of German support already provided for other projects, Ms Schwarzelur-Zutter said that energy efficiency projects, including buildings, were progressing well and that another agreement with Ukraine in this area was about to be signed: “We support examples where this has already been implemented. We are looking at what has already been achieved. We need to explain to flat owners why this is important – then the progress is possible. As far as wildlife conservation projects are concerned, they are very important as biodiversity is decreasing. This is why we are cooperating with your colleagues in the Carpathians – so that both nature conservation and forestry can be carried out. Protecting beech forests and national parks is both about sequestering carbon and preserving forests”.

In the autumn of 2018, MENR developed and in the spring of 2019 the Government approved the Concept for the Implementation of the State Policy on Industrial Pollution. The Concept was developed in accordance with the provisions of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (in particular, with regard to the implementation of the requirements of Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions). A public discussion on the draft Action Plan for Implementation of the State Policy Concept on Industrial Pollution is now taking place on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resorces. On the same day there was a big discussion on the project and “what business ha to do and what to do with business to reduce pollution”.

Olena Miskun from the non-governmental organisation “Ekodia” believes that the emissions situation should be brought under strict control. She recalled the responsibility of business, the balance of ecology and economy. “Ekodia” conducted a tour of Ukraine’s most polluted cities in 2018, during which activists and experts took samples of sand, bottom sediments and free-range poultry eggs. The research showed that there are elevated concentrations of heavy metals in the bottom sediments and sand. It was found even in the sand that had been brought to the playgrounds. Eggs are contaminated too. This shows the state of the environment in the industrial part of Ukraine.

“My relatives work at the Arcelor-Mittal steel plant in Kryvyi Rih and I know what it is like. When you buy eggs, you wonder if they are safe – what comes first? Work or safety? Mariupol, Kamianske, Kryvyy Rih – you cannot see the sky behind clouds of multi-colored smoke!!! Is it possible to live in such cities and buy all the necessary medicines on these salaries and pensions?! Can one live there at all? When a person goes to the doctor because of high blood pressure, or the threat of a heart attack or atherosclerosis – who pays for it? It all falls on the shoulders of the people and the state. People are sick for there is pollution. When an enterprise, its owners say that they need money for modernization and you should give us money from the state budget – it is not normal. The enterprise owes people money for treatment, and now you have to give them money for new equipment”, Olena Miskun says.

Iryna Chernysh from a non-governmental organisation Save Dnipro also refers to her own experience: “I live 300 metres from an area where several times excess arsenic level have been registered. I am a mother. I have a positive attitude to the Directive: the community wants clean and safe environment, as the Constitution stipulates. But access to information and the opportunity to participate in eco-safety management is not implemented. Multiple requests have to be made every time – for water, air and the like. There are no mechanisms that allow the public to monitor the processes taking place in the enterprises”.

This is the position of most NGOs. And everyone should understand, if nothing is done, it is not just a question of our longevity, it is already a question of the survival of our descendants. Recently, the world famous anthropologist Thomas Reuter (senior vice-president of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, member of the executive board of the International Social Science Council), who visited Kiev, said: “We have ten years to stop the use of coal, oil, gas. The emissions and greenhouse gases from burning them are changing the composition of the atmosphere too fast, heating it. The ice caps, which so far reflect sunlight, are melting. This makes the situation even worse. Those who understand the situation are burning inside, but society does not hear them,” Thomas said. – It may seem that this does not apply to Ukraine – you have a temperate climate, you have enough food – you even export it. But it is not. The Food and Agriculture Organization is expecting hundreds of millions of refugees because of climate change.

Translation of Natalia Derhun

Oleg Listopad

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