The air quality in Ukraine is worse than anywhere else in Europe (1). Although new legislation based on the EU directives was recently adopted, change is far from visible. According to the new report “Roadmap for reducing industrial air pollution in Ukrainian cities” by the Clean Air Project, the state authorities do not enforce the law, and industrial corporations continue their business as usual. The necessary shift requires an integrated permit process, following strict pollution limits, public participation in decision making, and a strong environmental inspectorate.
“Monitoring, access to information, a clear process for issuing permits, thorough control, and significant fines for those who break the rules. These are the components of functional air pollution management that the citizens of Ukraine deserve,” says Sarka Havrankova, the lead author of the study, a lawyer and expert on public participation in decision-making. “Instead of issuing partial permits for individual industrial facilities, we should follow the EU Industrial Pollution Directive and integrate the procedure. Thus, the experts of the state authorities, but also the public affected by pollution, can easily follow the decision-making,” she adds. “Nowadays, the system is fragmented, and responsibility is shared by too many different state bodies. As a result, nobody is truly responsible.”
“One of the major obstacles nowadays is a lack of relevant and accessible information,” comments the environmental journalist, senior lecturer at the Kyiv-Mohyla academy, and co-author of the report Oleksandr Yaroshchuk. “Ukraine needs a centralized and reliable air pollution monitoring system. All citizens must be able to see the air quality in their neighbourhood online. So far, the civic air pollution monitoring organized by NGOs is more meaningful than the chaotic and non-accessible system of the state.”
Regulation in Ukraine and the EU was one of the topics of Industrial Air Pollution Ukraine 2020 – a conference organized within the Clean Air for Ukraine Project led by the Czech NGO Arnika in cooperation with local civic initiatives in industrial towns, with financial support from the Transition Promotion Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the National Endowment for Democracy (USA). More information and materials are available here: https://cleanair.org.ua/happening/conference-air-pollution-ukraine-2020/
(1) A recent summary of the situation was published by the CEE Bankwatch Network – Ukraine’s dangerous air pollution problem in desperate need of solutions: https://bankwatch.org/blog/ukraine-s-dangerous-air-pollution-problem-in-desperate-need-of-solutions