The 18th government program pays a lot of attention to environmental issues. Danas Augutis, Vice-Minister of the Environment, shares the principles that will be used to restructure and manage the areas assigned to the Ministry of the Environment. Greenhouse gas emissions are indeed included.
Climate change is mentioned in the government’s program as one of the biggest challenges alongside the pandemic and aging population.
“Climate change is an international and inter-institutional problem. To stabilize the climate, we need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Ministry of Environment is taking the lead in coordinating the actions of many institutions. That will affect the transport, agriculture and industry sectors”, said Danas Augutis. According to him, all public investments must also go through climate impact-criterion assessment.
One of the success criteria for 2030 is the first climate-neutral and waste-free city in Lithuania. The involvement of municipalities coping with climate change is also much needed. “We plan to encourage municipalities to choose less polluting investments. We hope that in the near future we will select pilot municipalities with the aim to implement the idea of a climate-neutral city”, said the Vice-Minister.
Investments in research
Within four years, the legal framework will be directed towards Green Deal principles. One of the upcoming discussions is National agreement due to forests. Public inquiries about logging in protected areas suggest that current forestry needs a change. “On the other hand, we have to remember that wood can be an ideal raw material – it is renewable, climate-neutral and can replace concrete and plastic,” said the Vice-Minister. The State Forestry Enterprise manages half of the country’s forests and about 15 percent land areas. It is the largest supplier of timber in Lithuania. “We hope that the SFE will continue the process of streamlining its activities, implement modern process management systems, and open some of the data on the management of the forests to the public,” said a representative of the Ministry of Environment.
The government is planning an innovation breakthrough by increasing funding for research, experimental development and innovation. Funds will be focused on research and innovation, which are particularly important in the transition to a circular economy, addressing environmental and climate change issues. D. Augutis emphasizes that in addition to innovations, ideas are no less important. “Investment in research will not be possible only at the request of the Ministry of Environment – first of all, it is an area of concern of the Ministries of Education, Science and Sports and Economy and Innovation,” he said.
Polluter pays principle
Lithuania is committed to reduce its impact on climate change by 2030 by at least 30%. Changes in activity and investment will affect every GHG-generating sector. These changes also aims to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the country’s economy in future markets. The main directions and measures of sectoral development are identified in the National Action Plan on Climate and Energy (NECS) adopted by the previous Government. “We plan to update it by 2023 in line with the objectives of our Government’s program and the EU’s Green Deal policy”, said Danas Augutis. Already this year the Ministry of Environment together with the other ministries creates a decarbonisation working group for each sector. This group hand in hand with business and society will look for the most effective solutions.
“We will make environmentally friendly consumption the most cost-effective option”, – concludes the VIce-Minister on the issue of responsible consumption. Environmentally harmful subsidies will be phased out by implementing the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Support and investment will be targeted at Green Exchange priorities.