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Climate minister: Open and honest debate must accompany proposed green law

Kristen Michal (Reform), new climate minister.
Kristen Michal (Reform), new climate minister. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Developing planned new legislation on climate will take up to 18 months, the minister tasked with that responsibility, Kristen Michal (Reform), told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Monday.

Michal took office Monday as Minister for Climate, a newly-created post, and said that the legislative drafting process should be accompanied by an honest public debate, plus the involvement of experts.

Michal told AK that: "The climate legislation is one task that must be carried out immediately. The process will take a year-and-a-half, and must be an honest debate between conservationists, as well as entrepreneurs, with the participation of scientists and experts."

"It will provide a social balance, so that we can get to understand how the quality of life in respect of the economy will improve, but within the boundaries set by nature; we will respect what the environment essentially is."

"The global problem of economic growth and economic activity needing to fit within the framework of the natural world is a global 'mega-trend'," he went on.

"While we deal with other minor concerns here on a daily basis, that is one question, but if we consider what kind of planet and environment we will leave to our children, that is an entirely different matter, by which we can influence today what will happen 50 or 100 years from now," the new minister added

Energy, transport, renewable energy, mineral resources, mining and logging volumes, previously mostly shared between the economic affairs minister and the environment minister, all also fall under Michal's new remit.

A proposed car tax included in the Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition agreement, should by its very nature rid the vehicle registry of all aging, high-pollution cars, and will point drivers towards cleaner consumption in future.

The government, state bodies and the Riigikogu could also switch to hybrid or electric vehicles in the next few years, he added, to demonstrate how words are being followed by actions.

On other questions within his ministerial area of responsibility, Michal said that pre-existing permits for new oil shale mines, a sector under pressure due to climate neutrality goals, will not be taken away; tree felling volumes set by the preceding administration, another hot topic in Estonia, will remain valid (the party which threw the biggest spanner in the works regarding this topic, Isamaa, is not in the new administration-ed.), and moves will be made to improve the relative worth of timber, the minister said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera, interviewer Priit 'Wend' Kuusk.

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