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Friday 18.08.2017 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena

Latvia could be obligated to purchase air pollution quotas in the future

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Every European country’s duty is to make sure their forests and bogs attract a certain amount of CO2. Workers of Latvia’s forest industry are warning – the country cannot keep up with the once adopted greenhouse gas attraction obligations.

If the country is unable to meet this goal, it is obligated to purchase the so-called quotas for additional emissions of CO2. Up until now Latvia has been a seller of these units. However, the situation could turn around, De facto programme of LTV reports.

Latvia has earned nearly 200 million LVL on the sales of CO2 emission quotas to other countries. Countries that have well developed industrial production are required to purchase specific numbers of units. The international emission market works in accordance with the Kyoto protocol. Latvia is part of it too. The money earned from the quotas is invested in the Climate Change Financial Instrument, which finances different alternative energy projects. However, experts predict that there will be less money available in this instrument from now on. A new period of the Kyoto protocol has begun. Its new requirements for emission reduction are stated much more clearly. With that, Latvia will no longer have anything to trade.

“In this second trading period, Latvia is likely to have nothing to offer,” – says Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s Climate and Environmental Policy’s Integration Department Director Ilze Pruse. The ministry does say that there will be other sources of funding.

However, workers of Latvia’s forests are worried about changes the most. Forests have the most important role in the recycling of CO2, and every country has a specific level a which this should be done. Latvia is not lucky in this regard – the country had no specific methodology that would allow measuring this level. As a result – Europe did this on Latvia’s behalf, setting one of the largest levels among member states. If the country is unable to have its forests, simply put, suck in CO2 in a specific amount, it is required to purchase emission quotas. And Latvia could end up having to do so.

Seeing as though Latvia’s industry is not too well developed, our CO2 emissions are smaller than the volume of gas our forests recycle. And this is where the unfair nature of the second period of the protocol appears – this Kyoto protocol, which will last until 2020, no longer has any significant difference between CO2 emission and attraction. The protocol simply states that the country has to fulfil the obligations it has taken on itself.

“We have been presented with specific requirements on the volume of CO2 the country’s green mass needs to recycle every year. This means there is now a specific report level for 2013-2020, which Latvia is obligated to follow. If this level is somehow broken, this means Latvia becomes more dangerous to the environment, because we are no longer able to recycle as much as we usually do. This difference is then required to be compensated,” – Pruse told the programme.

In order to avoid this situation, the Agriculture Ministry is working on the development of Latvia’s methodology, which would calculate the level much more precisely or, at least, come close to calculating the level that would represent Latvia’s interests on how much CO2 we can afford to attract.

The problem is that the woodworking industry plans to cut down trees for its needs. This volume may even increase. It is no surprise that this industry contributed a lot to the recent export volume increase. But cutting down more trees would mean a reduction in the volume of CO2 Latvia can recycle.

The Agriculture Ministry claims that, if Latvia fails to lower requirements, it will be either required to purchase quotas or slow the development of its forest industry – something the country cannot afford because many are not interested in doing so. There is a third alternative – there are quotas left from the previous period. Using them could improve the situation, but only until the end of this period.


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