The Story about the NERP: A Happy Ending Depends on All of Us

We’ve aggregated information the authorities will never tell you and most of the media will distort at the oligarchs’ request. They won’t explain why children born after 2011 should breathe cleaner air every year. They’ve already started school, while the grown-ups are still struggling to implement ecological modernization. In the last decade, Ukraine’s air has become neither cleaner nor safer. We can’t put the problem on the back burner, but not everyone thinks so.

It all started on 1 February 2011 when the Energy Community Treaty came into force in Ukraine. The European energy market loomed on the horizon, while Ukraine only had to meet the requirements of Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions. To this end, the authorities had to shape and implement the National Emission Reduction Plan for Large Combustion Plants, i.e. old coal-fired power plants and combined heat and power plants.

Suddenly, the authorities began to sell these plants to private companies at a low cost provided, however, that they implement ecological modernization. By signing sales contracts, the new owners agreed to the greening requirements. And then the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine, together with them, had been developing the National Emission Reduction Plan for 5 years.

Do you think they understood that they would have to invest in the power plants? 

On 8 November 2017, the NERP was approved, while it’s been valid since 2018. Consequently, Ukraine’s air should be gradually cleaned of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine dust. By 31 December 2033, the NERP will have to be completed.

To recap, the Energy Community Treaty came into force in 2011 in Ukraine, while the NERP was approved in 2017, i.e. 6 years later. At that time, other countries honoured or started to honour their environmental commitments according to similar plans. This means that our NERP alone is a permit to poison Ukrainians longer than in other countries.

And then you know what they say, ‘It all happened like in a dream’:

  • In 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the Action Plan for 2018 to implement the NERP. Out of 7 items, the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine managed to implement only one: it set up a working group.
  • In 2019, the authorities first postponed implementing the NERP for 2–5 years—for 21 out of 90 power plants. But they didn’t go beyond 2028–2032.
  • In 2020, a working group under the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine proposed to postpone implementing the NERP for the SECOND time —for another 5–10 years! To prevent this, the environmental community appealed to the Ukrainian authorities and European partners and gained support from everyone except for the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine.

In winter, people consume more energy, thus overloading old worn-out units. All of them have already depleted the economic life or—in simple terms—they’ve expired. Some have managed to expire twice!

The situation heated up. News plants rained down on the media space where corporate lobbyists complained about inadequate funding and kept telling about the need to postpone the NERP for another 5 years. Also, they’re now offering the state, i.e. all of us, to pay for ecological modernization of their private (!) power plants! 

At major committee meetings in late January 2021, our European partners stressed that we had no legal mechanism to postpone the NERP…

Today, on the one hand, large financial groups put pressure on the central authorities, but on the other hand, the public and the European partners stand out for the changes. 

And what can you contribute to this situation?

You need to understand who’s in the right and help reach as many Ukrainians as possible with the message. This way, you’ll help the idea get traction for the sake of the public. This is extremely important now.

Thank you for reading till the end.

This publication has been made within the frameworks of the Accountability Fund (Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). The views and opinions expressed in this article may not reflect the official position of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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