Urgent Action Needed to Combat Climate Change and Its Impact

News | Good Governance | Publications | Article 25 July 2017

 

Author of the given Essay is the student of Caucasus University Mariam Geliashvili. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.

 

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Climate change is one of the most important challenges of the modern world. Global warming was noticed in 1970’s, when the world was faced with rising annual average temperatures and frequent natural disasters.

 

Today, it is scientifically proven that climate change is happing throughout the world. The impact of climate change, such as glaciers and ice caps melting, the so called “heat waves”, droughts, heavy rains, rise of the sea level, flooding, landslides, tsunamis, avalanches and storms are becoming stronger and more frequent.     

 

Climate change also alters nature and ecosystems, and increases the risk of epidemics. The intensity of negative consequences of greenhouse effects grows every year. All this makes the need to come up with a solution more urgent. The global discussion on this issue has been going on for quite long.

 

Like many other countries, Georgia is faced with acute environmental problems. What is the cause of air pollution? In Georgia, transportation, factories and power plants are the main causes.  Vehicles are the main polluter in urban areas, with 62%-75% share of total emissions.

 

Such large emissions from the transport sector in Georgia can be explained with several reasons. First, the number of light motor vehicles doubled in the last decade. Nowadays, in Georgia there are 12 cars per 100 persons. Second, the overwhelming majority of vehicles are old. Third, the quality of petroleum is so low that the car exhaust filters do not function properly. Fourth, many cities in Georgia cannot regulate traffic, which results in frequent traffic jams, during which cars emit more pollution.

 

In Georgia, the highest rate of air pollution is in Tbilisi. The main pollutant is smog, which is a mixture of dust, fog and smoke, emitted by factories and vehicles. The main reason is overcrowded streets with cars and other vehicles. In 2015, a study by the National Environmental Agency found that the most polluted area in Tbilisi were around Isani Metro Station and Rustaveli Avenue.

 

What is the impact of pollution on human health? According to WHO, 92% of earth’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds standards set by WHO. Vox reported that every year 6.5 million people die due to bad air quality. The majority of them develop cancer and heart diseases.

 

What is the Georgian state policy to solve this problem? The first time members of Parliament looked at the problem was in 2000. That year, the President of Georgia adopted a 4-year plan which defined air pollution in urban areas as a priority in environmental problems. However, due to financial problems, the previous government did not implement activities under this first national program. Only in January 2012 did the Government adopt the second Environmental Protection National Program.

 

The program covers a period of 4 years and aims to provide clean air on the entire territory of Georgia. However, the Georgian Government has so far failed to fully implement the Plan. For instance, according to 2016 WHO study, Georgia is a world leader in terms of deaths related to air pollution, with 292 deaths per 100,000.

 

Finally, the Association Agreement with EU also places great emphasize on ecological standards. As a result of this agreement, mandatory technical evaluation of cars will be introduced until the end of 2017, and emissions will be subjected to EU standards. These actions will certainly improve road safety and ecological situation.

 

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