University of Tasmania
whole_BanksAmandaJ1997_thesis.pdf (27.63 MB)

Political, economic, and social reform in Lithuania : implications for the environment

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:05 authored by Banks, Amanda J
The thesis tests the hypothesis made elsewhere (Banks 1991, Kritkautsky 1995) that, on regaining independence, Lithuania had the capacity to create an environmentally sustainable society based on historical connections with the land and mass support for environmental issues during the fight for independence from the Soviet Union. It is found that the priority given to environmental issues on the Lithuanian political agenda has declined since the restoration of independence. Regardless of the political leanings of those in power, these goals have been replaced by immediate economic and political concerns, hindering any possibility for the creation of an environmentally progressive society. The factors involved in the rise and fall of environmental issues and of the Green movement in Lithuania are discussed, together with the connection these have with secession from the USSR, and the pattern of economic and social development that has followed. It is found that, since the restoration of independence, environmental problems remain and initial hopes of integrating environmental and economic policy have failed. In looking at all the influences involved in resolving environmental problems, the future of environmental policy in Lithuania is assessed. Two case studies are provided which highlight the interrelationship between economics, ecological problems, political priorities, national identity, and social conditions. Water pollution, particularly in the Baltic Sea and the Nemunas River, is an environmental priority in Lithuania but there are several obstacles to its improvement and it cannot be resolved without international cooperation. Energy production has been one of the most controversial issues in Lithuania, with debate initiated even before secession. The continued operation of the Soviet-designed nuclear power plant at Ignalina and the proposed construction of the environmentally destructive and economically inefficient oil terminal at Butinge demonstrate the relatively low priority given to environmental issues and the primacy of economic and political considerations in an atmosphere of strong national sentiment. National identity and environmental concern had an influential role in the fight to restore independence and this is examined within the context of social movement theory. The theory of an increasing concern for economic issues is tested by discussing the connections between the environment and economic systems (in theory and practice), the situation in the USSR, CEE, Lithuania, and the EU and the negative implications these have had for environmental policy in those countries. An analysis of both internationally and domestically derived financing of environmental projects is also presented which highlights the nuclear and waste water treatment priority of programmes, identifies problems in using fiscal measures, and questions the values of international donors. The hypothesis is further tested by reviewing political developments, the process of rebuilding democracy, and the various legal reforms necessary for facilitating an open, sustainable society in which environmental issues are a priority. It is found that while some positive developments have occurred, such as legislative reform and some improvements in water quality, the primacy of economic development will continue at the expense of environmental protection.


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Copyright 1997 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references

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