The FINANCIAL -- Interview with Kakha Kuchava, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources
Q. What does green business mean to you?
A. Green business is an efficiency of not only rational use of natural resources but resources that a company uses and consequently, at the expense of this efficiency, the growth of income and social responsibility in the country.
Q. Why should businesses become green?
A. Any business, especially if it is a big and ambitious business, thinks about the future and not just about its future but the future of the surrounding environment. It is necessary for all businesses to gradually switch to the principles of green economy, since the trends that are in the world, including increasing use of resources, even by an ordinary business, will ultimately lead to catastrophic consequences for our future generations.
Q. When companies try to become sustainable, what is the hardest part of the process for them? How are you supporting them?
A. The most difficult part, in general, is the level of education and level of knowledge in the field of green economy. Unfortunately, many believe that green economy and implementation of entrepreneurship in green economy principles is associated with less profit, which is an absolute falsehood and which indicates incompetence. If the company is working on a long-term perspective and not a short-term one-time success, the principles of green economy are especially attractive to them. That is why our committee’s aim is to maximize awareness. Also, our goal is to support the Government in creating legislative initiatives and directives in terms of green economy, to become more attractive and interesting for local and foreign companies.
Q. What steps has the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee taken to become more sustainable itself?
A. We have very interesting processes in the committee. There are working groups with regard to the green economy in which all interested parties are involved and they will be particularly active from September. Meetings with private sector representatives are planned. Our main goal is to raise awareness and search for a solution to make it easier for the private sector and entrepreneurs to move to green economy principles.
Q. Which industries have the worst impact on the environment?
A. These are of course companies extracting and mining natural resources. Mining companies are causing the biggest harm to the environment and this fact requires considerable attention.
Q. What is Georgia doing in order to improve the environment and reduce pollution?
A. I know what Parliament and our committee are doing in this regard. One of the most recent issues we have started is to improve the air quality in Tbilisi, but as the working group shows, these recommendations will be very interesting for Georgia as a whole, not just for Tbilisi. There are many problems in the process of being investigated and come September we will have completed the most interesting legislative initiatives.
Q. What kind of fines or limitations have been imposed on companies having a negative impact on the environment?
A. Unfortunately, an early, regulatory base for companies who have had a negative impact on the environment was so diminished that it was hard to institute criminal proceedings against damaging companies. Today, one of the main issues the Government and Parliament are working for is a reform that radically changes the approach of responsible companies to environment protection. The existing system will guarantee environmental protection in the case of accidental damage or by purpose.
Q. Do you think that the existing law is effective in terms of protecting Georgia from environmental offenders?
A. Today we are actively working on stabilizing legislative amendments to the environmental damage industries. This is a bit of a painful and not pleasant process for many, but the fact is that if we think about the future and the sustainable development of the country, the environmental component is one of the most important, together with the economical and social.
Nowadays, it is an active work process in order to maximally harmonize existing laws with international and EU standards, as well as working on new laws.
Q. Solar energy is actively supported by governments in the USA and EU countries. What is the Georgian Government doing to support green energy in Georgia, especially wind farms and solar panels?
Renewable energy is becoming a top priority for Georgia. Last year, we became members of the Energy Community and we drafted the legislation that includes Law on Energy Efficient Construction and Law on Renewable Energy , which will be discussed in the autumn sessions. This law will be the main base from which to promote renewable energy in Georgia.
In terms of wind energy in Georgia, we can truly be proud of the 6 huge wind electric power stations located on the way to the West, working successfully.
As for solar power, I had very interesting discussions lately, even last week in Kutaisi Parliament, and our last meeting was related to this issue.
We met with a very interesting group that wants to build solar power stations in Georgia, and I believe that the Government should support the implementation of such kinds of projects. Georgia has this potential. If solar energy was previously a more expensive luxury, now it is cheaper and more affordable.
Q. From your point of view, why does Georgia not support the popularization of bikes and scooters? In major EU capitals the number or cars are limited and this does not affect the economy badly.
A. Everything needs its time, but we do not have the right to spend as much time as Europe and other countries to promote it. However, we are making many interesting legislative amendments, on the basis of which a tendency of growth is evident.
I was one of the authors of the draft law that relieved all electric bikes and electric vehicles from taxes. I registered a new draft law a few days ago that will also exempt electric buses in Georgia from taxes.
According to the statistics, the number of electric and hybrid cars in Georgia is growing rapidly, and the rate of increase will continue to grow.
Q. What are the main challenges the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee is facing at present in the field of environmental sustainability?
A. In general, we face a lot of environmental problems. I can underline two ongoing hot topis we are working nowadays. One of the challenges we are trying to stick to is the forests reform and the absolutely new concept, which is based on the sustainable management of forests. The reform includes an increase in the number of foresters, to increase their qualifications, trainings, knowledge and equipment, preventive measures for forest problems.
The second challenge is waste management. We have received a very high law, but first is the adoption of the law and second is its execution. The next year will be particularly important in this direction, in terms of implementation of municipal management plans, and it is very interesting in this regard that Parliament will be involved. Our committee is going to meet representatives of municipalities in all regions and talk about these challenges with them.