Why do the citizens of Ukraine suffer from air pollution and why do skies remain dirty? Research by Czech and Ukrainian NGOs reveals that fragmented legislation and an ineffective state apparatus are among the main causes. The competence is shared among too many state bodies and, as a result, no one is responsible. To fight air pollution effectively, an integrated approach and consistency are necessary, as the study “Dirty Skies Above: Regulation of Air Pollution in Ukraine and the EU” shows. Although several significant changes in legislation have been approved in the last year, law enforcement is still lagging behind.
The study compares and contracts the environmental permitting system in Ukraine with law and policy in the EU and brings practical tips from Czechia and other countries. It also focuses on the issue of the monitoring of air pollution and the operation of the state environmental inspection. “Within Ukrainian environmental policy, most sectoral strategies and action plans lack prioritization, realistic target indicators, and clear time frames to achieve the targets, without efficient implementation mechanisms. As regards environmental legislation, unfortunately quantity often precedes quality,” explains the lead author of the study Sarka Havrankova, lawyer and expert on public participation in decision-making.
The research was carried out during 2018-2019. Although the authors are aware of the rapid changes in the Ukrainian legislation in 2020, it was not possible to include all the developments in the analysis. “The legislation is moving closer to the EU framework. In September, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a draft law on the prevention, reduction, and control of industrial pollution. Although the government is working on other laws, the process has to be accelerated. The state authorities are not ready yet to implement the legislation due to their structure and capacities. Adoption is being delayed by the Verkhovna Rada. The enforcement of the law virtually does not exist,” explains Oleksandr Yaroshchuk, an environmental journalist who works together with Havrankova.
“Ukraine joined the PRTR Protocol to the Aarhus Convention in 2016. However, the citizens still do not have access to information on emissions from industrial sources. Inaccessibility of data is one of the major obstacles blocking the way to a better environment,” adds Pavlina Filippovova, the coordinator of the Clean Air for Ukraine project from the Czech NGO Arnika.
Regulation in Ukraine and the EU is also one of the topics of Industrial Air Pollution Ukraine 2020 – an online conference organized within the Clean Air for Ukraine Project led by the Czech NGO Arnika in cooperation with local civic initiatives in industrial towns in Ukraine, with financial support from the Transition Promotion Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the National Endowment for Democracy (USA). The full agenda (every Tuesday until December 15th) and free registration are available at: https://cleanair.org.ua/happening/conference-air-pollution-ukraine-2020/