Climate obligations of people and companies to be written into the law

Power plant chimneys.
Power plant chimneys. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The Ministry of Climate has finished work on legislative intent for a climate act that would detail climate rights and obligations of people and companies. The law should enter into force in 2025.

The ministry wants the law to enter into force in 2025 for which it needs to land on the government's desk by June of 2024 and reach the parliament in September of that year.

The ministry has finished work on the bill's legislative intent document detailing the necessary steps for the law to be introduced.

The document reads that the law is necessary because the average global temperature keeps climbing due to still growing manmade greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of climate change in Estonia are seen in higher than average temperature gains, less ice and snow coverage, species migration and more forecasted precipitation.

While Estonia's climate goals exist in strategy documents and development plans, they have no legal power. The contributions of different sectors in reducing greenhouse gas emissions have not been centrally distributed, which is why decision-makers and entrepreneurs lack certainty for future developments and clarity in terms of how much emissions need to come down.

Estonia wants to use the climate law to lay the groundwork for an economy that is resilient in the face of climate change, ensure legal clarity, agree on greenhouse emissions reduction targets, as well as detail the main activities needed to reach them.

The government is after intermediate goals for at least every decade, central management of funds aimed at hitting climate targets and alignment of fiscal and climate policy.

Working groups will be created to agree on general and sectoral goals for greenhouse emissions reduction, as well as the main principles and activity plan.

The legislative intent document reads that vulnerable groups and sectors that might be impacted by green policies need to be paid special attention.

The sectors believed to be most affected by the law are transport, agriculture, waste management, industry and sectors for which land use and forestry regulations are important.

According to the document, new investments will help reduce emissions but also bring new money to the economy through research and development.

The document states that climate targets will make it possible to adopt renewable solutions, for example, manufacture wind turbines and solar panels in Estonia.

"Current and planned mining and use of natural resources is an important part of the climate targets trajectory," it reads.

While strategy documents on climate targets and the Earth's Crust Act have so far been conflicting when it comes to the topic of mining, the planned climate law must provide clarity in terms of oil shale and peat mining. Proposals will be made to amend the Earth's Crust Act.

The incoming law deems it necessary to survey natural resources of critical importance and their potential mining. These are resources necessary for energy-efficient infrastructure construction, building materials industry and a climate-sparing economy, including the green and digital transitions.

Because the new law will affect the whole of society, there are plans to involve the public, private and nonprofit sectors in its creation, as well as scientists and individuals. The working group will be chaired by the ministry's secretary general.

Minister of Climate Kristen Michal plans to visit several regions in Estonia to introduce the incoming law and attach meaning to the changes.

The legislative intent document mentions that most EU Member States have already passed climate-related legislation and many others are working on them.


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Editor: Karin Koppel, Marcus Turovski

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