Friday, February 18, 2011

Stricter Regulations for Pollution Control in Ulaanbaatar

A Note from the Office of the President of Mongolia on air pollution control in Ulaanbaatar.


In conjunction with the Parliament’s approval of the Law to Reduce Air Pollution in the Capital City, initiated by the President, Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia Mr. D. Battulga, Senior Advisor to the President Mr. P. Tsagaan and the President’s Advisor on Ecology and Environment Mr. E. Zorigt held a press conference today at the Citizens’ Hall.

Chief of Staff Mr. Battulga began with explaining the circumstances which necessitated the Law. “President of Mongolia has held a number of meetings with senior officials and visited the most polluted sites in and in the neighborhood of the capital city Ulaanbaatar past January.

National Security Council discussed air pollution in the capital city at its session and concluded that it had reached a crisis level. Following these meetings, the President instructed to draft a law to reduce air pollution. The draft was developed, discussed as the relevant Standing Committees of the Parliament and approved at the general session of the Parliament last Thursday. Now the law is made, actions are to follow. We had had government resolutions, decisions of the Citizens’ Representatives’ Meeting of the Capital city and various programs adopted by the Parliament, but there was no law to regulate comprehensively this very serious issue.

According to the law, the ger district electricity transmission and distribution networks are to be improved. Solutions are found in the application of wind, solar (renewable) energy, use of appropriate stoves meeting technical criteria and standards and other eco-friendly schemes. These solutions will enable us to reduce by 50% the price of the night-time use of electricity. Also new technologies, any new initiatives and incentives to reduce air pollution shall be encouraged.

Officials who breach the Law shall be held accountable under the Law on Public Service. Officials who twice fail to undertake the duties prescribed by the Law shall be dismissed from the official post. These are the principal features of the Law.

The Law intends to yield concrete tangible results in the winter of 2011-2012. The Government is entrusted with substantial duties. The Law stipulates the establishment, by President’s decree, of a National Committee to provide for coordination, consistency and monitoring of air pollution reduction efforts.

The structure and composition of the National Committee is being developed by the Office of the President in close consultation with the civil society. Solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy equipment, stoves meeting technical standards, insulation materials, electric and gas heaters shall be exempted from customs duties and VAT. This will be resolved by amending pertinent Government resolutions. A law to exempt individuals and households who, with the view to reduce pollution, acquired standard stoves, house/ger insulation and warming materials from income tax is being drafted. Business entities which donate funds to efforts to reduce air pollution shall be exempt from corporate income tax by a certain degree. This is how the law will be implemented”.

“When will the fifth powerstation be built? Air pollution seems to come in vogue only in winter; can the National Committee be not oblivious of the subject in summer? When will the electricity prices cut to zero? Are there any standards for insulation of houses and gers? When will Mongolia get rid of air pollution at all, is it 2014? Will there be any tax benefits for domestic businesses which produce smoke-free stoves?” – were the questions of interest of journalists.

The Government was instructed to begin working on the fifth power station project within this year. It was also instructed to resolve the issue with the construction of the 6th powerstation. The price of electricity is indeed an exigency. The actual work to reduce air pollution is to start in March. The National Committee is to seek out ways how to reduce air pollution from every stove and chimney in the city.

Electricity prices will not be cut to zero, no question about this, however, we are talking about creating certain mechanisms to allow reducing the tariffs by 50% for night-time use of electricity. The introduction to the Law draft envisaged the year 2014 be the year of elimination of air pollution, this is our aim, the target we have to achieve.

By March 15th, the Government is to have developed the needed budget for 2011 for air pollution reduction and have submitted to the Parliament. We do not have standards for housing insulation. No stove standards either. They need to be developed immediately. Certain tax benefits will be offered to national companies which produce smoke-free stoves” – said Mr. Battulga.

Every citizen, every organization, bears a responsibility to contribute to the efforts to reduce air pollution. Through doors, windows and flooring 50% of the heat is lost. The Law provides to setting the standards for insulation. Deductions will be made from electricity bills of the households who meet insulation standards. Those who purchase new housing will eventually have to be interested not in the price of a square meter, but of the costs of heating of a square of meter of the new house – added Senior Advisor P. Tsagaan.

The draft of the National Committee structure and composition is practically ready. It will have 5 staff members. We studied the practices in other countries. This Committee will coordinate the work and ensure implementation of air pollution programs and projects – said Mr. E. Zorigt, Advisor the President on Ecology and Environment.

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