At its today’s sitting. the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) approved Estonia’s positions for the meeting of the EU Environment Council that will be held in Luxembourg on 16 October. During the sitting, a discussion arose on the point set out in the positions that in order to mitigate climate change, it is important to move gradually towards the phase-out of fossil fuels.
Deputy Chair of the Committee Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski said that while renewable energy was the preferred energy source, in the light of the experience of recent years with the security and energy crisis, it seemed reasonable not to completely exclude the use of fossil fuels. “It is a positive trend that the use of fossil fuels is gradually decreasing, but we cannot put all the stakes on green energy. We must keep in mind that supply security should be ensured also when there is not enough renewable energy for some reason,” the Deputy Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee said. “At the sitting, I proposed to amend the positions so that the goal would be to move towards reducing the use of fossil fuels, not ending it. Unfortunately, this proposal was not supported by the Committee, although the members from the opposition were in favour of the amendment.”
Member of the Committee Tiit Maran underlined that if we wished to talk about solving the environmental crisis, the objectives could not be reduced. “If we had amended the position and decided that the goal would be to move towards gradually reducing the use of fossil fuels, it would have been unforgivable softening from the point of view of environment targets,” Maran said. He stated that there was no deadline for the phase-out of fossil fuels, and that this option would not disappear suddenly. “If we really want to see a reduction in climate change, we need to have targets in place, as well as interim targets to monitor whether countries are really making the necessary and promised changes.”
It was pointed out at the sitting that phase-out of fossil fuels was also the goal of the Paris Agreement, and it was important for companies that the targets were clear and unchanging to maintain investment security. It was also emphasised as an important aspect that the EU’s efforts would be of use only if the same targets were met elsewhere in the world.
Estonia considers it important to increase the climate mitigation targets and to agree upon the mitigation work programme at the COP28. In our opinion, the pillars of this are the agreements made at the COP26 to phase out fossil fuels, to end the inefficient use of coal, to end inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally and to achieve stopping of emissions growth by 2025 at the latest and reduction of emissions thereafter.
Within the framework of legislative discussions, the meeting of the EU Environment Council plans to achieve a general approach to the review of urban wastewater treatment directive and the regulation for CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, as well as to approve Council conclusions on the climate change conference COP28 and update the nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement of the European Union.
Deputy Secretary General for Green Transition Kristi Klaas, Deputy Secretary General for Maritime and Water Affairs Kaupo Läänerand, Chief Specialist of Foreign Relations Eliise Merila, Adviser of the Foreign Relations Department Johanna Maarja Tiik, Adviser of the Water Department Anni Mandel and Advisers of the Climate Department Reet Ulm and Silver Sillak from the Ministry of Climate attended the sitting of the European Union Affairs Committee.