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Implementation of Georgia’s Commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement: the Case of Air Quality

 

Europe Foundation (EPF) held a roundtable discussion   Implementation of Georgia’s Commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement: the Case of Air Quality. 

The aim of the event was to facilitate a conversation between different stakeholders on improving air quality in Georgia. The discussion focused on ways of supporting timely and transparent convergence to European policies by meaningful engagement of civil society organizations and business community. Europe Foundation considers that increased citizen access to environmental information and empowerment of interest groups to monitor and advocate for timely harmonization of regulatory framework and practice with European standards will go a long way toward addressing the air quality situation in Georgia, which in turn will positively impact the wellbeing of the country’s citizens.

Some of the issues that were addressed during the discussion include:

  • The Georgian Government’s plans for decreasing levels of air pollution;
  • Congruence of the existing regulatory framework with Georgia’s international commitments;
  • Implementation of the Association Agreement provisions related to air quality;
  • Citizens’ awareness of air pollution issues.

 Marine Arabidze, the Head of Department of Environmental Pollution Monitoring at the National Environmental Agency (NEA), Maia Bitadze, the Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, and Manana Kochladze, the Chairwoman of Green Alternative and Ioseb Kuchava, the Assistant of the Head of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, were among the speakers of the roundtable. Ketevan Vashakidze, the President of Europe Foundation, moderated the discussion. Representatives of the Georgian Government, civil society, diplomatic missions, and international development organizations attended the event.

 Problem Statement

 Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges in the world.  A comprehensive study of the causes and effects of air pollution have not been undertaken in Georgia, hence, exact statistics about its detrimental effects on citizens’ health are still unavailable. According to the 2018 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), Georgia was rated 70th out of 194 countries by the indicator of mortality due to air pollution.  While poor air quality equally affects every citizen of Georgia, the situation is especially alarming in Tbilisi and industrial cities of Georgia, where Nitrogen and particulate Matter indicators (PM10 and PM2.5) are exceeding the acceptable norms.

The biggest anthropological causes of air pollution in Georgia are transport, industrial activities, construction, agriculture, and household heating.   Dioxide (NO2)

  • Transport is the major source of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions. During recent years, the number of personal cars on the streets has risen dramatically and so has the consumption of gasoline and diesel. About 70% of the vehicle fleet are older than 15 years.
  • Pollution flows from industry are difficult to assess in terms of volume and composition, since only a few industrial enterprises carry out self-monitoring and self-reporting. The great majority of these enterprises claim that they cannot afford investing into modernization of facilities, which means that their operations are often not compliant with the law. The most (industrially) polluted regions are Imereti and Kvemo Kartli.
  • Construction-caused dust remains an issue, since there is no requirement on containing and suppressing dust at the construction site. Recently, Tbilisi City Hall has stated an initiative to propose regulations to the Parliament for proper handling of construction material by the construction companies.
  • Household heating is the major source of TSP (dust) emissions (more than 50%), dominant source of PM10 and PM5 emissions (more than 80%), and the second major source of VOC emissions (30%).
  • Agriculture sector is the major source of Ammonia (NH3) emissions (96%).

With the adoption and entry into force of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, the country took on complex obligations to improve the situation on many fronts, including transport roadworthiness and fuel quality. The Association Agreement obliges the Government of Georgia to decrease the industrial pollution, including through supporting the use of energy efficient technologies and monitoring the fulfillment of existing legal framework, and decrease vehicle emissions following international best practices.

“With the adoption and entry into force of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, the country took on complex obligations to improve the situation on many fronts, including transport roadworthiness and fuel quality. The Association Agreement obliges the Government of Georgia to decrease the industrial pollution, including through supporting the use of energy efficient technologies and monitoring the fulfillment of existing legal framework, and decrease vehicle emissions following international best practices,”- said Ketevan Vashakidze, the president of Europe Foundation.

 

See the Discussion Resume. 

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