Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said at a meeting of European Union ministers responsible for competition on Thursday that while the energy sector must change, people's jobs and the security of supply of energy must not suffer.
"There are no simple and cheap solutions for achieving a cleaner world. A survey demonstrated that Estonia must invest €17 billion to achieve climate neutrality. This is a very big amount, and the state budget and a contribution of the private sector alone are not enough," Aas said in a press release.
The minister said that hence, additional money is needed, which, as one option, could be made available through changing the budget rules.
"Estonia and other responsible member states of the European Union could borrow to invest in a cleaner future," the minister said.
According to the minister, also the Estonian oil shale sector needs a special status.
"On the one hand, oil shale has ensured for us energy independence, whereas on the other hand oil shale based electricity production is becoming less competitive. While the Just Transition Fund put forward by the EU is a good starting point, the marketing principle of oil shale has not been considered fairly. But hopefully that problem will be solved," Aas said.
In addition to energy, Aas highlighted problems in transport within the EU.
"As minister of transport, I have seen that while focusing on the Green Deal on the one hand, we are simultaneously making decisions which go in the very opposite direction. The obligation for unladen journeys for road haulage companies from the fringe regions of the EU is in open contradiction with our climate ambitions," the Center Party ministers said.
Aas said that in the green race, the EU must maintain its global competitiveness and the system of free pollution credits has to be preserved.
"For resolving climate change, we must make full use of data, digitalization and new technologies. That is the new opportunity," he added.
The minister said there are positive examples also in Estonia, where businesses have found a new niche. Reverse Solutions, for instance, deals with textile waste, while Starship Technologies' delivery robots provide transport services of the last mile. We must encourage these initiatives, not undermine them with excessive requirements," Aas said.
In addition to the Green Deal, the EU ministers also discussed topics of artificial intelligence, the single market and EU legislative drafting during their meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
Editor: Helen Wright