Going green: Tbilisi embraces environmental changes for a better future

The felled trees will be distributed to the socially vulnerable population as firewood. Photo by N. Alavidze/Agenda.ge
Agenda.ge, 11 Aug 2015 - 18:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi is ‘going green’ and will soon become an ecologically clean city with healthy and attractive environments, pledged Tbilisi City Hall.

Reducing air pollution by improving vehicle standards and fuel quality, planting more trees and creating green spaces in the central city and raising awareness of environmental issues are some of the issues the local Government has addressed in the new five-year Environmental Strategy.

Tbilisi City Hall issued the Environmental Strategy 2015-2020 earlier this month to oversee the development of Georgia’s capital into a modern, ecological city. Stronger environmental legislation and policies will allow Georgia to achieve its goal of moving closer into line with other environmentally-friendly nations, said local officials.

Georgia became obligated to meet European standards in all fields, including environment, after it signed the Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU) last June.

The Environmental Strategy takes into account the existing challenges and the ways how to overcome them. The challenges are about air pollution and surface waters, covering Tbilisi and its surrounding territories with grass,” said head of the Ecology and Greenery Department of Tbilisi City Hall Bidzina Giorgobiani.

"The Strategy also includes improving environmental education and involving society in environmental issues. There are some actions that are already set, starting with improving the legislative bases [and] ending with planting of greenery,” he added.

The legislative changes were mainly required for fuel regulations. This was one of the regulations set by the AA signed between Georgia and the EU, Giorgobiani said.

Air pollution in Georgia was mainly caused by the growing number of cars which do not meet even basic standards. While a large number of the cars driving on Tbilisi roads are in desperate need of repair, fuel quality was also very low and exacerbated the problem.

Statistics showed 90 percent of air pollution was caused by vehicle emissions, which were due to poor quality fuel.

There are about one million cars in Georgia of which 40 percent are in Tbilisi. Latest data showed about 382,285 vehicles were registered in the capital city; the majority are old and do not meet environment standards. Specifically, data showed 57 percent of all vehicles in Tbilisi were more than 20 years old. Only three percent of cars were five years old or less.

Giorgobiani said the new Environmental Strategy also included a provision outlining technical inspection of vehicles. He did not state when this would come into force.