Have you ever wondered how many benefits we can bring to the world if, for instance, we turn off lights when we do not need? Or, whenever possible, we ride a bike instead of using a car to help reduce air emissions? Of course, these measures shall be widely promoted and encouraged by the state, but we – the population have to implement them. The efforts of only one ministry and specific agencies will not be sufficient to develop a better understanding of the role that people can play in environmental and namely climate change processes.
Georgia’s vision for climate change is best reflected in Georgia’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document.
The goal of Georgia’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document of 2021 is to reduce its domestic total greenhouse gas emissions by 35 % compared to 1990 level. It can be said that this is a quite bold statement, thus reaffirming Georgia’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. According to the Paris Agreement, the world leaders agreed to take all measures for holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
According to the Paris Agreement, Georgia like all other countries, has to develop an updated Nationally Determined Contribution document at least once every 5 years. Georgia, as in the case of other countries, is expected to demonstrate, as far as possible, progress in reducing emissions, i.e. greenhouse gas emissions with each update.
“NDC is a living document that has to be updated every 5 years. This means that once every 5 years the country has to develop a new vision, become more ambitious and implement ambitious actions in different areas.” – says Maia Tskhvaradze, Head of the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.
Like all other countries, Georgia follows the NDC points in its climate change policy planning. Georgia’s vision and strategy is to reduce the level of domestic total greenhouse gas emissions by 35% and implement specific measures to achieve this target by 2030. Specific measures include a number of actions – be it the development of a low-emission transport network or the rehabilitation of forest massifs.
“We have identified 7 economic sectors, including energy generation, transport, industry, buildings, agriculture, forestry and waste. We have planned specific measures in these 7 sectors and a plan for the implementation of these measures has also been developed,” says the head of the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture.
According to the document, Georgia plans to mitigate GHG emissions from the transport and energy generation and transmission sector by 15% and from the industry by 5% from the reference level and to increase the carbon-capturing capacity through the forestry sector by 10%.
Commitments undertaken by Georgia also include:
Assessing the impact of climate change on coastal zones, mountain ecosystems, water resources and forests and implementing respective adaptation measures;
Assessing the effects of climate change on economics, social field and human health and implementing respective adaptation measures;
Facilitating the conservation of biodiversity and the species that are endemic and/or protected under the Red List;
Reducing losses and damages caused by natural disasters and extreme weather events.
In addition to the above, one of the most important components of Georgia’s commitment is the involvement of women in the climate change related process. According to Maia Tskhvaradze, gender and climate change is an important area for Georgia:
“We are one of the countries that have explicitly highlighted this area in the NDC. We emphasize, that we consider our women as agents of change, as the role of women is very important, both in climate change mitigation and adaptation. CENN, for instance, is actively working on strengthening the role of women within the EU supported Georgia Climate Action Project and other ongoing projects,” – says Maia Tskhvaradze.
The media and the non-governmental sector play a major role in awareness-raising. CENN, also known as the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network, is one of the active actors in this process. Maia Tskhvaradze speaks about the role of the non-governmental sector in the process of management of climate change.
“Together with UNDP, a nationwide opinion poll on public awareness about climate change was conducted in Georgia to learn the level of public awareness of climate change-induced processes. It was found out that one of the main sources of information is the NGO sector. The media, which is the main source of information, in turn needs to be informed, and this is what CENN is doing. Together with CENN, we plan to organize meetings with the media as part of the awareness-raising campaign. In turn, the journalists will transfer the received information to the wider audience,” says Maia Tskhvaradze.
When asked in what direction the NGO sector should work, Maia Tskhvaradze says that the wide involvement of the public in the process of climate change is a serious problem. According to her, a common platform on climate change is being established together with CENN and partner organizations within the framework of the EU-supported Georgia Climate Action Project. This platform will help engage the public in climate change-related processes as much as possible. The purpose of the platform is not only to provide information, but also to identify climate change-related local problems and make sure that these issues are reflected in relevant policy documents. The platform will also facilitate dialogue, collaboration and research in the field of climate change.
It is important to reflect and integrate the public views and opinions in any document prepared in the field of climate change
“For instance, when we visited the target regions of the EU supported project together with CENN and met the regional climate action groups established by the project, we found out that local people have many specific and interesting ideas and therefore, such platform is very important”, – says Maia Tskhvaradze.
Along with the NDC, the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia has developed the National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, which sets out specific actions and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In case of implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan, the country will be able to successfully fulfill its international obligations.
Strengthened international support is needed to enable Georgia to implement more ambitious projects. Improved access to international financial resources will help Georgia reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 50-57% compared to 1990 levels.
In a long run, climate change mitigation measures will contribute to economic development, improvement of air and water quality, public health, growth of the number and quality of jobs, quantity and quality of biodiversity, and the number of introduced new and clean technologies.
The EU-supported Georgia Climate Action Project (GEO-CAP), being implemented by CENN in cooperation with partner organizations and similar initiatives implemented by other organizations with the support of the international community play an important role in meeting climate-related commitments undertaken by Georgia, as well in the strategic development of the country.