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PROBLEMA POLUARII IN ROMANIA
Romania`s natural environment is a study in constrasts. Much of the Romanian countryside remains unspoiled, and its fauna ranks among the most diverse in Europe. Dense forests continue to cover more than a quarter of the country's territory. These elements stand in stark contrast to other parts (especially urban areas) of the country which have suffered tremendous environmental degradation over the last 50 years. Industrial plants release large quantities of pollutants into the air, and the nation's water is polluted by industrial and municipal wastewater discharges, agricultural runoff, and insufficient treatment of toxic pollutants discharged by industry into the sewer system.
While much of the damage to the environment has its origins in Romania communist past, even after the transition to democracy, the country has not made environmental protection a top priority.
Not until December 1995 did the Romanian parliament adopt the Environmental Protection Law, which provides the basic framework for the protection of the country's natural resources. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Waters and Environment is Romania`s primary government agency charged with environmental matters.
In both 1999 and 2000, the European Commission's regular reports criticized the Romanian government for its failure to do more to protect the environment, and the last official report by the Romanian government on this issue in 2000 also found that the country suffered from numerous types of pollution. Progress will have to be made if Romania is to succeed in its wish to join the European Union (EU). In 2001, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Central and Eastern Europe Business Information Center estimated that the cost of coming into compliance with the standards necessary for accession to EU will be $20 billion over 20 years.
In recent years, Romania has voiced a stronger commitment to environmental protection, but the country's faltering transition to a market economy has made enforcement difficult. The Sofia Initiative on Economic Instruments at the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe notes that Romania suffers from: a lack of social interest in the connections between economic and environmental policies; an insufficiently mature set of protective institutions; and lack of the political will necessary to levy unpopular charges on dirty technologies. All of these factors make it difficult to apply economic instruments designed to reduce pollution.
Because in the past it has released pollution that has caused damage beyond its borders, Romania has agreements with some of its neighbors designed to prevent future occurrences. Bulgaria and Hungary are particularly concerned due to the damage caused by previous industrial releases into the Danube. The United States, World Bank, European Union, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and several NGOs have donated money for environmental protection and/or energy efficiency.Romania has ratified both the U.N. Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
Air pollution is a highly localized problem in Romania. While rural areas are often pristine, urban and industrial areas suffer from acid rain and high pollution levels. The 2000 state of the environment report lists 17 urban "hot spots" where air pollution systematically exceeds environmental quality standards.
Much of Romania air pollution stems from its antiquated energy sector. Because of conditions imposed by the EU and foreign lenders, state-run energy companies are gradually being restructured, but progress is slow. Thermal power plants continue to burn low-efficiency solid fuels and high-sulfur content heavy fuel. Adding to poor air quality in urban centers is the reliance of low-income Romanian households upon low-quality coal for heat. Another major source of urban air pollution is Romania transportation sector. Most cars on the road in Romania are old and poorly maintained, running on gasoline that has the highest lead content among Eastern European countries.
To reduce emissions and other pollutant discharges, Romania is attempting to improve its environmental management practices and technologies.
Water pollution is an even bigger problem for Romania. Not only are are there many water pollution "hot-spots," but Romania’s poor record of curbing industrial releases into the Danube has placed it under considerable international pressure. The Bulgarian government contends that Romania has made no efforts to crack down on industrial discharges, which negatively impact the entire region.
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