THE southernmost of the three Baltic Republics, Lithuania has a land area of 25,173 sq. mi. (65,200 sq. km.), a population of 3,390,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 142 people per sq. mi. (55 people per sq. km.). The economy of the country is heavily agricultural, and 39 percent of the land is arable. In addition, 6 percent is used for meadows and pasture, mainly for rearing cattle and pigs, both of which contribute to global warming through methane emissions. However, 31 percent of the country is forested, which alleviates some of the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the country.
In 1990, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita were 5.8 metric tons, but these had fallen to 3.7 metric tons per person by 2003. Seventy percent of these emissions come from the use of liquid fuels, 23 percent from gaseous fuels, 4 percent from solid fuels, and three percent from the manufacture of cement. In terms of emissions by sector, electricity production in the country contributes 39 percent of CO2, with only 20.2 percent of electricity production coming from fossil fuels, 76.8 percent from nuclear power, and 3 percent from hydropower. Transportation accounts for 26 percent of the country's CO2 emissions, with manufacturing and construction accounting for 15 percent, and residential use accounting for 5 percent.
The effects of global warming and climate change on Lithuania are potentially quite serious, especially around Klaipeda (formerly Memel) and the Courland Spit, which is at risk from flooding. There is also risk from flooding in other parts of the country, such as in the Aukstaitija National Park. To try to combat the effects of global warming, Lithuania has continued to invest heavily in its public transport system, and parts of many cities such as Klaipeda are pedestrian precincts that discourage the use of cars, with heavy encouragement of bicycling.
The Lithuanian government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention in 1995. They also signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on September 21, 1998, and ratified it on January 3, 2003. It took affect on February 16, 2005.
sEE ALso: Automobiles; Floods; Kyoto Protocol; Transportation.
BIBLioGRAPHY. Gabriel Ignatow, Transnational Identity Politics and the Environment (Lexington Books, 2007); World Resources Institute, "Lithuania—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); Vera Rich, "Baltic States Struggle for Total Power," New Scientist (v.1818, 1992).
JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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