Environment minister: I'm not convinced climate change is mainly man-made

Environment minister Rain Epler (EKRE).
Environment minister Rain Epler (EKRE). Source: ERR

New environment minister Rain Epler says he has doubts on the extent to which climate change is primarily caused by human activity.

"Climate change is visible, and undoubtedly exists," he said, speaking on ETV morning show "Terevisioon".

"As far as its being human-made is concerned, so far as I have read, there is controversy on both sides," he went on.

"Certainly people influence their environment and what is happening on the planet. Man has certainly reached a place in his development where he can have a great influence on processes.

"But whether the impact of anthropogenic change on climate change is as great as has been thought up to now – who knows, it isn't wholly convincing," he went on.

Epler was appointed environment minister last week following the resignation of Rene Kokk, on health grounds. He was sworn in on Monday.

As for Estonia's own energy needs, Epler says that developments in nuclear energy should be examined, as should renewables, adding that oil shale, which had at one time generated the bulk of Estonia's electricity, had little long-term future potential.

"Renewable energy – wind and solar power – certainly has a role to play in meeting our energy needs. But I think it's also important to keep abreast of developments in the nuclear field. We should certainly keep up with these developments, and nuclear energy is certainly an alternative to meet energy needs," he said.

The Estonian coalition last year gave its assent to the EU's climate vision, which would see climate neutrality – meaning Europe's net greenhouse gas emissions being at zero – imposed by 2050.

The coalition had initially opposed it, but official support was declared in June this year.

Estonia's European Commissioner, Kadri Simson (Center), holds the energy portfolio.

Epler would not comment on his position on the state forestry development plan, saying he wanted to poll the view of the environment ministry first.

Rene Kokk's departure had been accompanied by media speculation that obstacles in the path of his own plan for forest management were a factor. Rain Epler noted on first being appointed Kokk's successor that he saw moving forward with the forest management plan as a priority.

Rain Epler was appointed from a business background and is not an EKRE MP, though he is a party member. The party has previously appointed non-MPs to ministerial roles, most notably to the foreign trade and IT minister's post,.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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