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Law on Animal Protection, Environmental Code and Green Energy — Development of Ecology and Protection of Natural Resources in Kazakhstan

Tuesday, 05 January 2021, 21:13:47

Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Magzum Mirzagaliyev spoke at an online briefing about the implementation of the instructions given by the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his Address to the People of Kazakhstan.

The Address of the President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is a document that sets out the priorities for the development of the state and society, it is primarily aimed at improving the welfare of ordinary Kazakhstanis.

“Today the society is more and more concerned about the issues of ecology, the state of the environment. As the Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources, this certainly pleases me. The activity and civic position of our citizens stimulates us to take even more effective and efficient measures,” Mirzagaliyev said.

In his Address, President Tokayev paid special attention to environmental protection and biodiversity protection.

 

Adoption of new Environmental Code

According to the minister, this is a very significant document and it was discussed in detail.

“There were difficulties, as it was necessary to take into account the balance between environmental and economic interests. The desire of citizens to improve the environmental situation as soon as possible is also understandable. However, the improvement of the ecological situation will not happen immediately, but within several years. Since in order to improve the ecology in our industry, significant technical and technological systemic changes have to be made. It is gratifying to note that literally three days ago, the Head of State Tokayev signed the new edition of the Ecocode. The adopted document can be safely called reformatory, and its provisions have been worked out in accordance with the principles of the OECD and the countries of the European Union,” the minister said.

Briefly Mirzagaliyev spoke on the main priorities of the Ecocode.

First, the implementation of the polluter pays and fixes environmental principle implies pollution prevention and control measures, as well as responsibility for remediation of environmental damage. In the event of environmental damage, the natural resource user is obliged to restore the environment to its original state.

Second, to solve the problem of air, water, soil pollution, the introduction of the best available technologies in industry is envisaged. At the first stage, it is planned to introduce it into the 50 largest industrial enterprises, which account for 80% of pollution. In Europe, BAT has reduced emissions by 94% over 15 years. Enterprises that have implemented these technologies will be exempted from emission charges. If enterprises do not implement BAT, then the rates of payments for emissions will increase significantly.

Third, new approaches to environmental impact assessment (EIA). According to Mirzagaliyev, the approaches to the EIA were simplified. As of today, ALL (about 20 thousand) nature users undergo the environmental impact assessment procedure. According to the new Ecocode, only enterprises of the first category will be subject to a mandatory EIA procedure. This is about 2,600 enterprises. Thus, attention will be focused on truly environmentally hazardous facilities. At the same time, the public participates in all stages of the EIA (4 stages - the statement of intent, the scope of the EIA, the EIA report, the conclusion on the results of the EIA). Objects of the 2nd category will go through screening for the need or absence of the need for an EIA.

Objects of the 3rd category will operate on a notification basis. Thus, the akimats will accept declarations indicating the amount of emissions, discharges and volumes of accumulated and transferred waste from facilities of the 3rd category. (Gas stations, warehouses, furniture shops, concrete-mixing units and other objects, the activity of which is of a local, insignificant nature of environmental pollution).

Objects of the 4th category will be completely exempted from regulation (car washes, service stations, public catering facilities, micro-business facilities with low-power boiler plants for their own needs). At the same time, the absence of the need to undergo an EIA for a number of enterprises does not exempt them from state environmental control, that is, all enterprises must comply with environmental requirements.

Fourth. Payment for emissions into the environment.

The issue of targeted spending of emissions was one of the most discussed issues. At present, the current legislation lacks the obligation to spend the received payments for emissions for environmental protection measures. This led to the fact that only on average 45% of the funds received by the akimats (2019 - 87 billion tenge) are allocated to the environment. At the same time, in a number of areas, less than 10% of the funds received from payments for emissions were directed to environmental activities. In this regard, the new code stipulates that 100% of the proceeds from emission fees will be spent only on environmental activities.

Fifth. Improvement of production and consumption waste management.

As the minister noted, there is still a lot of work in this direction. Developed countries have long since switched to innovative solutions in this area. So far, Kazakhstan is only striving for this.

Today, 125 million tons of solid waste have been accumulated at 3.2 thousand landfills in the country. The share of refining in 2019 was 15%. However, this is extremely insufficient. For comparison, in developed countries this figure exceeds 30%.

In this regard, in order to reduce the accumulation of waste, energy waste utilization using the WASTE TO ENERGY technology has been introduced on a legal basis. The waste will be incinerated and electricity generated, which is then sold to the public electricity grid.

To date, 6 pilot cities have been identified. These are Aktobe, Almaty, Atyrau, Nur-Sultan, Taraz and Shymkent. There is an active study of the issue with the akimats on the availability of land plots, infrastructure and guaranteed waste loading. In case of successful implementation of pilot projects, the experience will be extended to other cities.

It is expected that thanks to this technology, the level of processing by 2025 will be brought to 30%, that is, to the average European level.

 

Decarbonizing Economy and Green Growth

Decarbonizing is about reducing carbon dioxide emissions and generating electricity from renewable energy sources. What does it do? This allows you to significantly reduce the harmful impact on the environment.

Today there is a tendency to decarbonize the world economy. To this end, the EU is introducing a “border carbon tax” on imported products from high-emission countries. This indicates the need to reduce emissions in order for our domestic products to remain competitive in European markets. In this regard, the Ministry has begun to develop the Concept of Low-Carbon Development of Kazakhstan until 2050. This work will be completed in June 2021.

In December 2020, at a summit on climate ambitions, Head of State Tokayev said that Kazakhstan is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Along with the active implementation of renewable energy projects, this implies in the future the development of hydrogen energy and technologies for capturing and storing carbon.

Mirzagaliyev noted that the ministry is receiving tremendous support from citizens. Every resonant case of cruelty to animals, barbaric attitude to nature, all this is promptly signaled to the population.

"And it is right. One must not remain silent about such facts. The reason for this attitude towards animals and plants is the insufficient level of ecological education and eco-culture. We actively cooperate with our citizens, who are not indifferent to the state of nature and the environment, together we hold joint events, volunteer clean-ups, actions to clean up garbage, plant trees. Of course, due to the pandemic last year, we had to curtail such events. We hope that this year such actions will be held much more often,” Mirzagaliyev emphasized.

 

Greening is one of the priority tasks

Kazakhstan belongs to the low-forest states. The total area of ​​the state forest fund is 30 million hectares and occupies 11% of the territory of the republic. Forested land covers 13 million hectares. The forest cover of the republic is 4.8%. By 2030, it is planned to increase the proportion of forest cover to 5%.

Within 5 years, 2 billion trees will be planted in the forest fund and 15 million trees in settlements. For this, the Ministry, together with the regional akimats, carried out work and determined the volume of tree planting in the context of regions.

Currently, on behalf of the prime minister, work is underway to develop a Comprehensive Plan for Reforestation and Afforestation.

The pandemic has shown the demand for domestic tourism. But it also demonstrated the low eco-culture of our citizens. We have many unique places in Kazakhstan. Natural parks, reserves, everywhere after the arrival of tourists, tons of garbage remain. And this cannot completely affect nature. Also recently, there have been facts of illegal felling, destruction and damage to trees and bushes in settlements.

On behalf of the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the ministry, together with interested government agencies, worked out a number of measures aimed at toughening punishment for violations of tree felling.

As a result, compensatory planting of trees will be provided in thirtyfold size in case of illegal felling, destruction, damage of trees listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as tenfold planting for the death of green spaces in the adjacent territory of individuals and legal entities. Previously, there were no such norms.

In addition, changes have been made to the base rates for calculating the amount of damage caused by violation of forestry legislation. Thus, the amount of damage compensation has been increased from 6 to 1,000 MCI for each illegally felled tree listed in the Red Book.

In addition, amendments have been made to the Administrative and Criminal Codes in terms of toughening sanctions.

 

Development of ecological tourism

An uncivilized approach to tourism has a very detrimental effect on our nature, unique natural objects. Therefore, it is necessary to develop ecological, organized tourism. And the potential of ecotourism in Kazakhstan is huge.

The Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted the importance of active development of the culture of ecological tourism within the country. The work has already begun. Now there are 13 national parks in Kazakhstan. In 2019, they were visited by 1.5 million people. In national parks, there are practically no equipped parking lots, camping sites, modern sanitary cabins.

Taking into account international experience, the emphasis will be on the development and arrangement of routes and trails. Modern visit centers, medical centers, campings, ethno-auls, etc. will be created.

In this regard, appropriate master plans are being developed. Work is underway to discuss them with the public. In order to ensure the transparency of the decisions taken, public councils have been created under the national parks.

The presentations of the Concepts for the development of ecotourism in the national parks of the Almaty group were developed and carried out: Ile-Alatau, Charyn, Altyn-Emel and Kulsay-kulderi.

In addition, similar Concepts for the development of ecotourism are being developed for all other national parks.

In addition, the Ministry, together with UNDP, is developing guidelines for determining the norms of recreational loads on tourist routes and ecological paths in protected areas.

In general, the development of ecological tourism in protected areas entails, most importantly, a careful attitude of citizens to nature, the creation of safe and favorable conditions for tourists, and also provides the local population with new jobs in the service sector.

 

Development of Law on Protection of Animals

Almost every day unthinkable facts of cruelty to animals are published on social networks. Take at least a number of recent cases — strangling a swan, a beaten seal, mockery of dogs, and there are many such facts. Legislation needs to be tightened.

So, in order to eradicate the more frequent facts of the barbaric attitude towards animals, together with deputies, animal rights activists, veterinarians and simply caring citizens, the Law on the Responsible Treatment of Animals was developed. The implementation of the Law will ensure the formation of responsible ownership of animals and humane treatment of them, the establishment of general and special requirements for the treatment of animals of various categories, the protection of animals from cruelty, and others.

The law has been developed and submitted to the Parliament, it is expected to be worked out in the Majilis.

“We discussed it a lot with the public. We tried to find a balance. The fact is that there are norms that animal rights activists are very actively promoting. For example, it is forbidden to operate on animals without anesthesia. This is the norm we have set. After that we start discussing with the public. Veterinarians say this regulation cannot be written in this way. There should be a specific list of those operations that can be performed with anesthesia and which can be performed without anesthesia. In this regard, the document was discussed very seriously and comprehensively. Therefore, it took us, of course, more than one month to collect all these opinions and then put them into one document,” the minister said.

Mirzagaliyev also noted that all discussions of the bill in the Majilis and the Senate are held in an open and constructive manner. Therefore, everyone can submit their candidacy to participate in the working group to discuss the draft law.

The law proposes to seriously toughen both administrative and criminal liability, to increase fines up to 5.8 million tenge or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

The law will set uniform requirements for the placement of animals throughout the country, it is forbidden to kill animals, it is only necessary to sterilize, a number of measures will be determined for pets, a list of dangerous dog breeds and those that are generally prohibited from walking without a muzzle will be determined, etc.

 

Rational use of water

As the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev voiced in his Address, today water losses in irrigation are 40% and the widespread introduction of digitalization and water accounting is required.

This is a very important question. And here the consciousness of the farmers themselves is also important, they must rationally use such an important resource as water.

It should be noted that in the past three years Kazakhstan has been in a cycle of low water. The total river runoff in 2019 amounted to 83 km3, which is 20% less than the average annual flow.

The ministry, together with the akimats, analyzed the results of this year's growing season. Based on its results, it was determined the need to take measures to prevent water shortages, taking into account the increase in the area of ​​irrigated land to 3 million hectares by 2030. Now this area is 1.6 million hectares.

In this regard, first, it is necessary to gradually reduce the area under crops of moisture-loving crops (rice and cotton) in the southern regions of the country. Second, the construction of new reservoirs and projects to improve the technical condition of canals will continue. Third: an increase in the area of ​​irrigated land is impossible without the introduction of water-saving irrigation technologies. Fourth: for the rational and economical use of irrigation water, the digitalization of water metering will continue on 119 main canals, with a length of more than 2.8 thousand km until 2025.

The minister noted that in 2020 a pilot project was successfully implemented in Maktaaral district of Turkistan digitalization of the main canal K-19, 12 km long and a suspended area of ​​irrigated land of more than 3.6 thousand hectares, on which there are 328 peasant farms. Thanks to the digitalization of the canal, it was possible to detect an overrun of irrigation water up to 45% of the irrigation regime.

Successful implementation of the above measures will allow to additionally accumulate about 8.3 km³ of water, as well as reduce water intake from 8.8 to 6.6 thousand m³ of water per hectare.

Taking into account the current water withdrawal limit of 15 km³, the saved water volume will allow meeting the demand for irrigation of 3 million hectares of irrigated land in the amount of 19.8 km³ by 2030.

 

By 2030, it is planned to increase fish farming by 30 times

The Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his Address noted the importance of the development of the fish industry. The fishing industry is one of the promising areas that is dynamically developing both in the world and in Kazakhstan. At the same time, according to experts, our country has a significant potential for growing fish — up to 600 thousand tons per year.

Today there is already a positive trend in the volume of farmed fish, the production of which has increased 1.7 times over the past three years (in 2018 — 5.6, in 2019 — 7.4, 2020 plan — 9.4 thousand).

In this regard, the ministry has developed a Program for the Development of Fisheries, which was approved by the Government a week ago.

In accordance with the program, it is planned to increase the volume of fish farming by 30 times by 2030: from 9 to 270 thousand tons of marketable fish per year. 545 new fish farms will be created and 323 operating farms will reach their full design capacity. For their implementation, it is planned to attract 345 billion of private investments within 10 years.

In 2020, as part of improving the legislation, a quarterly payment for the use of fish resources was introduced instead of an annual one, the Rules for the transfer of fishery reservoirs from fishing to fish farming were approved, with the possibility of concluding an agreement for fish farming for a period of 49 years.

Also, norms were adopted to remove restrictions on the placement of fish farms in the water protection zone, as well as exempt businesses from compensation for losses during the construction of fish farms on agricultural land.

The ministry plans to carry out relevant work to further improve legislation, provide high-quality fish stock, feed, as well as scientific personnel. Also, work will be carried out to provide measures of state support in the form of subsidies, including through a separate targeted allocation of funds for fish farming.

Thus, the implementation of the planned measures will allow to grow 1.1 million tons of fish in the amount of 2.2 trillion tenge over 10 years.

Second, to increase the domestic consumption of fish products up to 134 thousand tons per year.

Third, to achieve an increase in export earnings to $330 million.

Fourth, to reduce the volume of imports from 45 to 25 thousand tons by increasing the production of salmon and sturgeon.

In addition, the implementation of the program will contribute to the creation of at least 50 thousand additional jobs and an increase in the income of the population, mainly in rural areas.

 

Further development of Aral Sea

Answering the questions of journalists, the minister commented on the situation in the Aral Sea.

“This is a very complex problem, in the period from 2002 to 2008 the first stage of this program was implemented. Thanks to the successful implementation of the project, the water surface was increased by 870 sq. meters or by 40%, the mineralization of water is reduced, due to which about 20 species of fish live in the Northern Aral from one type of fish. This work will continue in two directions. This is a study of the possibilities of further expanding the water mirror and planting trees on the dried bottom of the Aral Sea,” Mirzagaliyev said.

According to him, over the past couple of decades, about 270 thousand hectares of saxaul forest have been planted, which has become one of the most effective ways to combat both salt and sand.

“In the next 5 years, in accordance with the instructions of the Head of State, trees will be planted on the territory of 160 thousand hectares on the dried bottom of the Aral Sea. Thus, we will bring the area covered by forest plantation up to 430 thousand hectares,” the minister assured.

 

Kazakhstan and Russia restoring ecosystem of Ural river basin together

Mirzagaliyev spoke in more detail about the measures taken to restore the ecosystem of the Ural river basin. In early December 2020, in Moscow, Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Magzum Mirzagaliev and Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation Alexander Kozlov signed a number of strategically important documents in the field of environmental protection and rational use of natural resources. Among the documents adopted are the programs of cooperation for the conservation and restoration of the ecosystem of the basin of the transboundary rivers Ural and Irtysh for 2021-2024.

According to Mirzagaliyev, in recent years there has been a decrease in water flow in the Ural River, which has led to the degradation of floodplain spawning grounds and, as a result, negatively affected the reproduction of sturgeon fish of the Caspian Sea.

During the meeting, an Action Plan was signed to improve the ecosystem of the Ural River. A plan by itself implies a fairly serious work. First, a detailed analysis of all sources that affect the inflow to the Ural River will be carried out. Second, all problems will be identified that are associated with the passage of the flow from the upper reaches to Kazakhstan, located at the bottom of the flow. Third, all barriers will be identified, such as reservoir, excess water withdrawal, and so on. In short, comprehensive joint work will be carried out in the next few years. Moreover, each country will bear its own costs.

“Based on the result, we must come to concrete measures related to the improvement of the Ural river bed. The second main task that we set ourselves is the achievement of agreements on an agreed flood discharge. We must make sure that our and Russian reservoirs work in a synchronized format. It is very important. Because the problem with the Ural (Zhaiyk) river is acutely felt in the middle of the year, from May to July. It is at this moment that we need to be discharged from reservoirs located in the upper reaches,” the minister said.

Also Mirzagaliyev emphasized that only the first leaders of regions and regions should be involved in this work.

“I would like to note that we are working very closely with the akim of the Aktobe region, where the Ilek River, one of the tributaries of the Ural River, and the akim of the West Kazakhstan region, are working very closely on these issues. At a meeting in Moscow, we agreed that this year, in the first quarter, our delegations should meet in Orenburg at the level of ministers and governors and, more specifically, once again there to discuss all the issues arising from the Action Plan we signed. As for the creation of working groups, we have them. We have pool inspections. We will strengthen this work,” Mirzagaliyev said.

 

Problem of smog in the capital to be solved thanks to gas supply

It is possible to reduce the smog, because all the preparatory work and prerequisites for this have already been created, said Minister of Ecology Magzum Mirzagaliyev.

“Thanks to the historic decision of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Elbasy Nazarbayev, the Saryarka gas pipeline was built. The connection of houses in the city of Nur-Sultan has already begun. We are constantly monitoring this issue, keeping our finger on the pulse,” the minister assured.

Thus, according to Mirzagaliyev, more than 300 km of distribution pipelines have already been laid in the capital, about 1,000 technical conditions have been issued, 300 houses are connected to gas. Several thousand more applications for connection to gas have been submitted.

“After the holidays, active connection will begin. But objectively, it should be noted that many residents have already purchased coal this year and therefore are not so willing to switch to gas. That is, they are ready, but they ask to be given the opportunity to use coal,” he said.

Comprehensive work is also underway to gasify the CHPP. Thus, four hot water boilers have already been converted to gas. In the coming year, the remaining boilers will be transferred. Thus, the Minister of Ecology, including as a resident of the city of Nur-Sultan, expressed the hope that by the next heating season, residents of the capital will breathe clean air.

 

Chipization of garbage disposal vehicles to fight against natural landfills

Answering a question from journalists about the current norms of the Environmental Code, Magzum Mirzagaliyev noted that in his opinion, the country currently has 2 major environmental problems.

The first is related to air quality and the amount of harmful emissions. The second is with garbage.

“We have tried to solve these two problems in the Ecocode. I believe that the norms related to the solution of these two problems are relevant,” the head of the department said.

Among the options for resolving these issues, it is proposed to introduce the best available technologies, as well as chipization, the installation of GPS sensors on all garbage disposal vehicles so that it is possible to deal with spontaneous dumps.

The minister stressed that the Environmental Code is a complex, large document. What was announced at the briefing is only a small part of it.

 

Construction of a hotel in Bozzhyra tract is not planned.

To the question of whether the construction of a safari hotel in the Bozzhyra tract will be carried out, Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Magzum Mirzagaliyev answered exhaustively and asked to put an end to this question.

He noted that the controversy over the idea of ​​construction in a natural zone flared up on the basis of sketch projects, without reference to a specific site.

“Taking into account the fact that the discussion continued, the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with the territorial departments, worked out the routes of animals, the potential load, met with representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and went to the site. We met with the investor and offered him to consider the issue of leaving the Zhabayushkan nature reserve, with which the investor agreed. I think that this issue has been completed,” he concluded.

 

Caspian seal listed in Red Book of Kazakhstan

As Mirzagaliyev emphasized, inclusion or non-inclusion of seals in the Red Book is not just a whim of the Committee for Forestry and Wildlife or the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources. This is preceded by a biological rationale. The inclusion of an animal in the Red Book first of all increases the responsibility of everyone for a negative impact on the population and promotes the adoption of more effective measures to preserve it. In addition, the ministry is working closely with Russian colleagues to conserve the seal. Since the beginning of 2020, a joint study has been carried out to assess the abundance of the Caspian seal in the water area.

“We had a very strong difference in estimates of its quantity - almost 3 times. Therefore, it was very important to carry out this joint work. We continue to carry it out. This work will continue for 3-4 years, following which specific recommendations will be given on the preservation of the Caspian seal,” said the minister.

 

100% of the emission fee to be spent on environmental measures

Magzum Mirzagaliyev also spoke about the conditions that will be created to attract investments in environmental protection measures.

The new Environmental Code will create two basic conditions for attracting investment.

First, the major pollutants are mainly enterprises built 50-60 years ago. Accordingly, their technological re-equipment, modernization, greening will require a lot of money.

“In this regard, in the Ecocodex we have adopted the following mechanism: we decided to share with the enterprises the costs associated with the implementation of the best available technologies. Not every state does this. We studied the experience of many countries. We have not seen in any country that the state gives such an exemption before the company introduced the best available technologies,” the minister said.

Today, enterprises annually pay about 90 billion tenge as a payment for the issue. Within the framework of the Environmental Code, the state allows them to keep 90 billion tenge for themselves, not to pay emission fees, but within 10 years enterprises are obliged to introduce the best available technologies. If the enterprise does not switch to BAT, the state begins to increase the emission fee by 2, 4 and 8 times in stages.

“That is, on the one hand, we help him financially, on the other hand, due to such tough fiscal maneuvers, we are beginning to encourage him to switch to green technologies,” Mirzagaliyev explained.

The second important aspect of attracting investments is that 100% of all funds coming from payments for emission to the budgets should now be spent only on green activities by the oblast akimats. With the launch of the new Environmental Code, everyone will see what the money that comes from the emission fees is spent on.


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