The Environment Council of the European Union gathers today, on 5 March, in Brussels. The topics in focus are European strategic long-term vision for reducing greenhouse gases “A Clean Planet for All”, matters of the drinking water directive, and discussions on how to ensure that the environment sector is considered more during funding decisions.
Estonia is represented in the meeting by Clyde Kull, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the European Union, and also participating in the meeting is Kristi Klaas, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment.
The strategic long-term vision for reducing greenhouse gases is to be adopted in Autumn 2019 after Europe-wide discussions. The goal of the strategy is to assert Europe’s commitment to take the leading role in world-wide climate actions and present a vision of how to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. According to a special report submitted in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this is exactly the ambitious goal that must be set in order to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. The proposal of the strategy examines eight scenarios – none of them foresee a complete reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but they address methods of gathering or binding the emissions that have been lowered to a minimum level.
Before deciding on the joint vision, there will be a thorough analysis of the States’ energy and climate plans, the drafts of which were submitted by the Member States to the European Commission at the end of 2018. When preparing a draft for the national energy and climate plan, Estonia mainly took into account effective development plans like National Development Plan of the Energy Sector until 2030 and General Principles of Climate Policy until 2050. Currently, the Estonian climate policy framework document sets an objective of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 in comparison with the emission levels of 1990. An analysis on whether we would be able to raise the goal will be finished during the second half of the year.
According to Kristi Klaas, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment, it is important to Estonia that the transition to a low-carbon economy would be gradual and take into account social justice. “The economy of Estonia must remain competitive. In order to retain that, our businesses need long-term economic signals in order to avoid an exit into third countries where there are no strict restrictions,” said Klaas.
Transition to a climate neutral circular economy assumes that besides raising the awareness of people, there will be investments into implementing new solutions and technologies. “We have to create a reference framework to support green innovation, and increase the investments of private sector to green technology,” said Klaas. “Creating more sustainable and resource efficient business models helps to protect the environment as well as offers a competitive advantage in saving costs.”
There is also a plan to reach an agreement about the general approach of the new drinking water directive, which will update the drinking water quality parameters that are now 20 years old.
The topics of how to coordinate funding with low-carbon economy and transition to a resource efficient circular economy are also being discussed.