What Does Big Dirty Business Hide From Ukrainians?

On 16 February, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine failed to adopt the Draft Law 4167 ‘On Prevention, Reduction, and Control of Industrial Pollution’ and submitted it to the relevant committee for revision. Read the detailed analysis conducted by our colleague Iryna Chernysh here.

Today, the committee has held the session, so we’ve seized the opportunity to add the clause about the continuous monitoring of emission sources with data being transmitted online and published in real time. There hasn’t been just a heated discussion—we’ve faced hell from time to time. But first things first.

What do we think is currently happening in Ukraine due to the lack of such monitoring?

  1. Ukrainians are suffering from uncontrolled air emissions that don’t comply with not only European but also Ukrainian standards.
  2. Budget revenues from environmental taxes polluters have to pay for their emissions fall short of the expectations.
  3. Ukraine loses up to 6% of GDP fighting against pollution-related morbidity and mortality and takes fourth place in the world (!) in terms of such expenses1.

Nevertheless, the major polluters categorically refuse to disclose their environmental data2, especially instant ones, although they’ve long since begun to install their pipe monitoring systems.

We believe that they’re reluctant to share the data solely because it’ll be harder to ‘make adjustments’ before making them public.

Meanwhile, the drafters and environmentally conscious people’s deputies have supported our proposals during the finalization process. The reviewed version lays the foundation for the continuous monitoring of air emissions in the framework law.

Suddenly, the people’s deputies who traditionally protect big business from any encroachments on sustainable development put forward the following argument:

‘Not all of the major polluters have access to high-speed Internet’.

Here we go again… Businesses that make billions can’t transmit their emission data online because they don’t have high-speed Internet.

Come on, folks. That’s no fun at all. 

To support these standards, our colleagues mentioned that even high-altitude hydropower plants transmitted water monitoring data online, while the owners of the major industrial polluters can launch their own satellites to provide the Internet.

In short, here are the names of the people’s deputies who voted to exclude the rules on the continuous online monitoring and instant data transfer: 

  1. Serhii Shakhov
  2. Pavlo Yakymenko
  3. Pavlo Bakunets
  4. Eduard Proshchuk

On 16 February, all of them, except for Eduard Proshchuk who was absent from the session, didn’t vote for the Draft Law 4167 ‘On Prevention, Reduction, and Control of Industrial Pollution’.

But why is the pipe monitoring important and why does it bother the oligarchs so much?

If the key stationary sources of emissions at the major industrial polluters can’t be continuously monitored, it’s impossible to do the following:

  • Detect excessive air pollution and inform the population about this
  • Promptly control man-made accidents and catastrophes
  • Calculate losses (fines) for long-term excessive emissions
  • Collect enough evidence to go to court (for regulatory authorities, law enforcement agencies, and NGOs)

But what is possible?

  • Companies understate environmental taxes for air emissions.
  • Regulatory authorities or unscrupulous stakeholders blackmail and put pressure on companies.

Neglecting the health of tens of millions of Ukrainians, the polluters are trying to bargain. Their colleagues from other countries have long since grown up and become responsible. But in Ukraine, every drop of environmental justice faces a fierce struggle.

It’s great that the majority of the Environmental Committee realizes that the health of the nation depends on their decisions. Today, the Environmental Committee has taken another step towards reforming industrial pollution by finalizing the draft law—together with our amendments—and recommended submitting it for the repeated first reading under number 4167-d to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine!

We’d like to thank all of our colleagues who traditionally support the pipe monitoring, law drafters, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, and the Committee on Environmental Policy of the Verkhovna Rada for our fruitful cooperation and their sustainable position.

We hope that the procedure will complete quickly, while the draft law will be fully adopted.

[1] According to the analytical report published by international researchers of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

[2] Unimpeded access to environmental information is protected by the Constitution of Ukraine and the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

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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