Estonia will receive €354 million from the European Commission's Just Transition Fund which will be used to help Ida-Viru County invest in green energy and away from shale oil.
"The need for a green transition has been talked about for a long time, but Russia's war against Ukraine has also made it clear to the last doubters how important it is to abandon the use of fossil energy sources even faster," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Monday at the opening seminar of the Estonian Just Transition Plan seminar in Narva.
"Striving for climate neutrality is an opportunity to improve our energy security, make Ida-Viru County's economy more sustainable, encourage new investments in the region and increase the competitiveness of companies," she said.
Estonia's Just Transition Fund plan focuses on two strands, "Economy and labor" with €273 million and "Environment and social inclusion" with €66.74 million of triggering measures.
Estonia will receive the most money per capita from the fund compared to other European countries.
Estonia plans to gradually transition away from producing shale oil by 2040 and aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Companies operating in Ida-Viru County today create more than 50 percent of Estonia's total greenhouse gas emissions.
The funding will help the country mitigate the social, environmental and community impacts of the transition, the European Commission said.
Thousands of workers are employed in the shale oil industry and they will be offered opportunities to upskill and work in new environmentally sustainable companies.
The jobs created by the just transition plan must be created in the region within the next seven years.
Dozens of companies have already taken an active interest in the new opportunities and have already undergone the necessary pre-consultation, with some of them already working on their applications, the government said in a statement on Monday.
The plan envisages the restoration of abandoned and polluted areas and investments in solar, wind and hydrogen power. There are also plans to develop a business environment based on the circular economy.
Kallas and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen both attended the opening seminar on Monday.
"Renewables have a long-term growth perspective, which fossil fuels do not. The Just Transition Fund will help create new companies, or modernize old ones, and bring research and new jobs into the region of Ida-Virumaa," von der Leyen said.
Editor's note: More information about the fund and quotes from Kaja Kallas were added to this article.
Editor: Helen Wright