By Angele Kedaitiene
The Lithuanian government on 19 June decided to join the EU goal to achieve a climate-neutral economy by 2050, although such ambition could be a challenge for the country’s economy.
Economy Minister Virginijus Sinkevicius warned that this target would hit the development of small but important industrial cities, like Jonava, Akmene and Mazeikiai. Furthermore, the manufacturing sector in Lithuania makes a higher economic contribution than in other EU countries, what would also be a challenge.
Agriculture and road transportation are other sectors of Lithuanian economy which would require significant transformation. Farmers and carriers agree that CO2 emission must be reduced, but warn that such changes would require huge investment.
Raimundas Juknevicius, vice president of the Lithuanian Farmers’ Union, says it will be hard to ensure that energy for land cultivation, crop maintenance and harvesting were produced without CO2 emissions.
“A powerful harvesting combine uses over a ton of fuel per day. It’s a huge amount of energy. There’s no technology to make batteries that would replace it,” Juknevicius said. “We do realize the need to move towards halting global warming as the agriculture sector will suffer very much due to climate change. On the other hand, politicians have the duty to set goals, and it’s not that easy to implement them.”
Climate scientists say Lithuania is experiencing more frequent and intense heat waves due to climate change, and also the nature of precipitation is changing as well as showers are followed by periods of drought, and tornadoes form more often.
Although, the above concerns of the economic sectors of Lithuanian, could be exaggerated. Statistics shows that country is well placed in terms of green transition and could be among leading EU countries.
The graphs below demonstrates energy consumption per capita and CO2 emissions per capita in tonnes for the 19 countries of the Eurozone, with Lithuania and Latvia being the most modest consumers and emitters.
The energy consumption in the Eurozone countries went down during the decade, but at the same time, EU countries demonstrate huge differences, Malta being the biggest consumer of energy, along with Germany, Ireland and Austria, and Netherlands, Lithuania and Spain being the less consuming countries. Germany has a very powerful industry, also Ireland and Austria. Energy consumption in Malta is driven by the fact that people could use the private cars for commuting. In the last years, Lithuanian government has paid sufficient attention to energy efficiency, by changing technologies, developing less energy-intensive service industry, also by encouraging the renovation of houses, promoting public transport and bicycles.
CO2 emissions per capita does also vary across the Eurozone countries, the highest being in Luxembourg and Estonia, Netherlands and Germany, the lowest – in Lithuania, Latvia and Malta. The difference between the highest and lowest emitters, around 4-5 times, is huge, with some countries managing high energy consumption with relatively small emissions, and vice versa, mainly because of the national policy context.