On November 29, 2022, "Green Armenia" environmental and educational NGO sent a letter to the Yerevan Municipality and the RA Ministry of Environment regarding air pollution in Yerevan, asking what steps are being taken to reduce air pollution and protect people's health.
In its answer the Municipality approached to the issue from the perspective of tree-planting. "Landscaping and Environmental Protection" Community Non-Profit Organization responded to the letter, stating that "...to mitigate air pollution, it has developed a strategy to implement tree-planting not in water scarce areas, but in areas where there is an irrigation system, and where it is missing or in a dilapidated condition, establish a new one or restore it.
2022-2023 development programs of the Organization include vertical and functional landscaping, modernization of the irrigation system, establishment of urban forests and protective green zones, as well as the expansion of the urban nursery and waste sorting, the starting point of which is the work carried out in the autumn of this year on Myasnikyan avenue at a length of about 70 meters.
Thanks to the functional landscaping, which includes evergreen, valuable tree species (juniper, pine, fir, live tree, etc.), it will be possible to further mitigate the amount of airborne germs, dust and noise.
The extension of the city nursery is managed by the Organization, which was founded in 2020 and annually grows and supplies around 250,000 plant species to the city.
Establishment of urban forests and protective zones: Regarding the latter, it should be noted that in the autumn of this year, the Organization established a forest on about 10 hectares, of which 6 hectares are on the height of Tsitsernakaberd, and 4 hectares are in Saralanj. I consider it worth noting that almost all of the tree species were provided by the nursery of the Organization. At the height of Tsitsernakaberd, an irrigation system with a length of about 4.5 km was also built.
The Organization is also engaged in waste sorting, which also has a function of environmental protection, thanks to which it becomes possible to prevent the emission of various toxic gases into the atmosphere. In terms of waste sorting, the Organization covers the area of the whole city of Yerevan, as well as carries out function of raising awareness of the public; it works with schools; cooperates with NGOs and universities.
The Ministry of Environment responded to our letter regarding air pollution from a legislative perspective. In particular, it noted that "... an amendment was made to the Law on Atmospheric Air Protection, according to which the subject of the Law is ensuring the purity of atmospheric air, preventing or reducing emissions of air polluting (harmful) substances, as well as implementing international cooperation in the field of atmospheric air protection.
The purpose of amending the law was to establish modern approaches to atmospheric air protection, in particular, the harmonization of air quality assessment standards adopted in the world and currently in force in the country, the demand for the implementation of the "best available technologies" widely used in developed countries in order to limit emissions, state registration of emissions of polluting (harmful) substances, and improving greenhouse gas emissions inventories.
These reforms will not only make the protection of atmospheric air more effective, but also contribute to the proper fulfillment of our country's obligations under international agreements.
An amendment was also made to the Code on "Administrative Offenses", providing for stricter sanctions for burning waste in waste treatment facilities or in specially designated places or in unlicensed landfills in cases of exceeding the norms set by the discharge permit and without a discharge permit.
Emissions of harmful substances from motor vehicles play a significant role in air pollution and contributing to its reduction is one of the most important functions of the Ministry of Environment. From that point of view, motor transport, traffic, cargo transportation and other vitally important issues are constantly in the center of attention of the Ministry.
A program on "Transitioning to electric vehicles in Armenia: Strengthening Demonstration and Promotion of Electric Vehicles" is being implemented by the Ministry’s "Environmental Program Implementation Office" with the financing of the Global Environmental Fund from 2021. This project envisages strategic planning for low-carbon vehicles/mobility and institutional system reform. The project also plans to develop an electric mobility strategy.
The law "On Amendments to the Tax Code of the Republic of Armenia" was developed by the Ministry and adopted by the National Assembly on June 7, 2019, according to which electric motor vehicles (large, medium and small buses, passenger vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds) import and/or disposal were exempted from value added tax on January 1, 2022, and on December 10, 2021, the National Assembly adopted the Law "On Amendments to the RA Tax Code", according to which the privilege period was extended until January 1, 2024.