Estonian minister: Climate package to have tangible impact

  • 2021-07-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonia's Minister of the Environment Tonis Molder has described the new climate and energy legislation package presented by the European Commission as bringing with it changes that will have a tangible effect.

The climate package envisages a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The proposals concern all the main EU climate and energy legislation documents and have a significant impact on the economic sectors of the EU. The aim of the package is to ensure that climate neutrality is achieved in the EU by 2050.

According to the minister of the environment, work on the proposals has been going on for a long time and although the proposed changes are not revolutionary, they will still have a significant impact, spokespeople said.

"Achieving climate neutrality cannot be left to fate, and, besides, it brings important benefits to society: more energy efficient homes that are cheap to heat and cool; a cleaner environment; greener transport; and a greener and stronger energy system. In the coming months, we will discuss the matters related to the package with stakeholders and ministries to shape Estonia's negotiating position," Molder said.

He described it as important for Estonia that the climate package takes into account the specificities of each member state, in Estonia's case the oil shale sector, for example.

One of the most important novelties brought about by the package is the creation of a separate emissions trading system for road transport and buildings. Previously, the trading system applied only to carbon-intensive industrial sectors such as steel and fertilizer production, electricity generation and shale oil refining.

Estonia's Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said that where earlier the achievement of Europe's climate objectives primarily happened through the energy sector, the wider picture is now being looked at and transport is getting greater attention. 

"If road transport is incorporated into the emissions trading system, it is important that its revenues are channeled back to the member state, meaning Estonia, for green investments," said Aas.

The minister pointed out that the Commission has been looking for more ways to speed up changes in these sectors. For example, new vehicle emission requirements, the establishment of a cross-border interoperable alternative fuels infrastructure and the improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings through a renovation wave are planned.

In addition, in its package, the Commission also presented an increase in the Modernization Fund and a new Social Climate Fund to help countries meet these targets and support low-income households in the green transition.

The package calls for several other changes. These include, for example, a new proposal for a carbon border mechanism to prevent carbon leakage -- moving production to third countries with lower climate requirements.

The package also foresees an increase in national ambition for the Shared Commitment Regulation sectors, meaning transport, agriculture, waste, etc., and the Land Use and Forestry (LULUCF) sectors; as well as raising the EU's renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for 2030.

In Estonia, the authorities are now starting to work through the package, and the government will formulate its views on the legislation package submitted for negotiations, involving stakeholders, in the fourth quarter of this year.

Estonia's national goal is to reduce greenhouse gases by 70 percent by 2030. According to data for 2019, Estonia has already reduced emissions by 64 percent compared to 1990. Nevertheless, Estonia's carbon footprint per capita is the fourth largest in Europe.