Estonian Parliament discussed green transition as a matter of significant national importance. Estonia’s share of the total EUR 17.5 billion of Just Transition Fund is EUR 340 million, with additional resources for technical assistance that makes it highest per capita in Europe.
Chairman of the Environment Committee, Erki Savisaar, described the green transition as a huge challenge for Estonia, but also as an extraordinary opportunity to do away with old dependencies and achieve a complete energy autarky. “By nature, green transition is a strategy aimed at bringing about a structural change in the economy and social organisation,” he said. “This strategy should make Europe energy-autarkic and environmentally sustainable.” He said that green translation starts on the local level through local actions and significance of short supply chains. Looking to the future, it was pointed out that it is very important to develop clean fuels and storage options and that Estonia could contribute more to hydrogen energy. Another important area is circular economy, i.e. increasing resource recovery, including reducing refuse, waste, and pollution.
Energy sector, power generation in Estonia has been dependent on oil shale and has one of the highest carbon intensity in Europe, needs to be more sustainable and carbon neutral. As oil shale sector as the long history and highly developed in Estonia. In total, the oil shale sector directly and indirectly employs more than 14,000 people most of which are located in Northeastern Estonia, Ida-Viru County. As the region has a very large number of people working in the sector it is difficult to make a quick exit and is also important to find possible to capture carbon. But since the price of CO2 has been high in recent years and will increase in the future it is not easy for the sector and new methods for generating power is needed to find.
Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, who presented the European Union Green Deal, new initiatives, and the Just Transition Fund, pointed out that Ida-Viru County as being by far in the most precarious situation in the Estonian context, as it depends largely on the oil shale industry. Simson explained that the region would avoid a decline with the help of the new Just Transition Fund that offers assistance to regions that depend on fossil fuels mining or industries with large CO2 missions. She added “These funds can be used in Ida-Viru County, preferably to retrain and train the working age population so that they would find employment in some other field whose ecological footstep is smaller. These funds can and must be used to create new jobs as well,”
Speaking of the Just Transition Fund, it was emphasized by a representative of the region that a 90% of the Fund’s resources should be allocated to business development, including research and development, and 10% to the living environment.