LEIF-supported projects reduce environmental pollution2007-05-02
The Lithuanian Environmental Investment Fund (LEIF) founded by the Ministry of Environment celebrates its ten-year anniversary. Having kicked off with three employees, it now expanded to a team of twelve.
The basic goal of the Fund is providing financial support to businesses in the public and private sectors which implement investment projects aimed at reducing environmental damage caused by economic activity. Support is provided in the form of soft loans or subsidies. According to its director Lina Mačėnienė, within those ten years the Fund allocated 59 million litas in loans, 2.5 million in loan subsidies, 3.5 million in interest subsidies, 10 million in grants and 22 million in subsidies.
Based on the calculations by LEIF staff, had all the projects supported in the last decade been implemented, the country’s atmospheric pollution could decrease by 40,000 tons per annum, water pollution by more than 200 tons per annum and over 150,000 tons of waste could be managed. LEIF Supervisory Board decides funding for each specific project. This collegial body is composed of 12 members who represent public authorities and non-governmental organisations. The Supervisory Board sets priorities for support, and approves the Fund’s budget, action plans and reports. LEIF’s basic source of funding is the established revenue from pollution taxes (around 12 million litas per year) and the 11.5 million litas grant allocated by the European Commission within the framework of the Phare programme.
Support to investment projects is no longer the Fund's only field of action. It is charged with the obligation to monitor Lithuania’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To this end, in 2005, LEIF established a Climate Change Division. The same year the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Registry started operation. Lithuania was the first among the three Baltic States and the twelfth EU Member State to have such a registry. At present, it has opened accounts for 99 operators and 5 legal entities and 5 national accounts. Lithuanian companies are granted permits which define how much carbon dioxide they can emit into the atmosphere. After exceeding permissible levels companies will have to pay penalties. It is seen from the GHG Registry which companies used up their limits and which transferred them to other companies. To date, not a single case of exceeding emissions has been recorded in the country as companies received a sufficient number of permits.
The so-called joint implementation projects are another field of activity of the LEIF Climate Change Division. They are implemented by two parties to reduce atmospheric pollution with greenhouse gas. To date, LEIF has approved 8 ideas for such projects. One of them is devoted to processing rape into biofuel, another to using the biogas formed in Lapių Landfill for combined electricity and heat production, the third to utilising petroleum combustible gas, other two to reducing nitrogen suboxide, and other three to developing wind plants.
Public Information Division, Tel. 266 3660
2 May 2007