Lithuanians willing to get rid of their old polluting cars can benefit from government grants to buy more environmentally friendly substitutes. With the Environment Ministry allocating additional funding, most Lithuanians have opted to purchase electric scooters and bicycles.
The Environmental Project Management Agency (APVA) of the Ministry of Environment has been accepting subsidy applications to purchase electric scooters, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles or simply public transport passes since mid-May.
Owners of discarded polluting cars could receive grants of up to 1,000 euros. So far, 8,518 people have applied.
“The initiative received a lot of attention from the population. The number of applications exceeded all expectations. For this reason, the Environment Ministry has allocated additional 3 million euros from the Climate Change Programme,” Austėja Jonaitytė, a spokeswoman for the APVA, said.
By mid-October, the APVA had spent 95 percent of the 8 million euros and the Ministry of Environment has decided to allocate an additional 3 million euros to the 5-million-euro programme.
Most of the funds had been spent on electric scooters and bicycles (4.95 million euros), electric bicycles (268,849 euros), eletric mopeds or motorcycles (135,852 euros), and public transport tickets (49,537 euros).
The largest share of the subsidies were spent on electric scooters. Requests to buy electric mopeds were worth around 1.3 million euros.
Since April, the APVA has also been accepting requests to subsidise purchases of electric cars. Buyers of used vehicles could get 2,000 euros, while those purchasing new electric cars, up to 4,000 euros. So far, APVA received 333 applications.
But Žygimantas Mauricas, chief economist at Luminor bank in Lithuania, believes that the Environment Ministry's programme is not the best way to cut pollution in the transport sector.
“Less polluting means of transportation that people bought with the grant money were just a drop in the ocean. It was possible to invest that money, to fund infrastructure improvements,” Mauricas said.
Moreover, the programme benefited more affluent Lithuanians who could afford expensive electric cars.
Still, the Environment Ministry is looking extend the programme into next year.
“Experts of the Climate Change Programme will approve next year’s budget and they will decide whether a measure like this is beneficial,” Raimonda Karnackaitė, a ministry spokeswoman, said.