Lithuania votes against EU proposal for earlier start to emission reductions

European Parliament

Lithuania was one of the two countries that voted against the European Union's proposal for an earlier start to greenhouse gas emission reductions, saying that such plans may lead to funds being spent on buying extra emission quotas, rather than invested in reducing air pollution.

Representatives of EU member states voted on Wednesday on a proposed effort sharing regulation that would commit all member states to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by 2030. The target would have to be met in the land and household, and waste management, transport and services sectors in the 2021-2030 period. Based on the regulation, Lithuania would have to reduce its emissions by 9 percent.

In discussions between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, however, it was agreed that reductions could start in May 2019, rather than in 2021. Twenty-four member states on Wednesday approved the proposal, but Lithuania and Malta voted against and Latvia and Poland abstained.

Stasilė Znutienė, head of the Climate Change Policy Division at the Environment Ministry, told BNS that an earlier start might lead to Lithuania having to purchase additional quotas from other member states instead of spending all funds on emission reduction measures.

"Of course, the earlier you start, the easier it is to do, but, at the same time, doing so becomes more ambitious. We see that we won't be able to fit into the quotas planned to be allotted to us and will have to spend funds on purchasing annual quotas instead of investing in emission reduction measures in individual sectors," she said.

Based on preliminary estimates, Lithuania may need an extra 9 million tons of greenhouse emission quotas and their market price will depend on how well other EU countries do in reducing air pollution after 2020, the official said.

Deputy Environment Minister Martynas Norbutas told BNS that Lithuania is having the most difficulty in combating pollution in agriculture and transport, where emission are on the increase.

"If we want to take measures to reduce emissions, we could agree on them in the course of this year and put them in place at the end of the year. They would be applied in early 2019, but we are unable to achieve certain results," Norbutas said.

"We want to spend money on emission reduction investments, rather than on buying additional quotas," he added.

Lithuania plans to provide an explanation on why it voted against the proposal to other countries shortly.

Following Wednesday's vote, the regulation will go to the European Parliament. If approved by the parliament, it will return to the Council of Ministers for formal approval and will then come into force.

Source: BNS
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