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Estonia will not get any new climate obligations at COP28

Ministry of Climate Deputy Secretary General Kristi Klaas.
Ministry of Climate Deputy Secretary General Kristi Klaas. Source: Ministry of Climate.

Estonia will not receive any new climate obligations as a result of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) conference in Dubai, UAE, starting at the end of this month, Kristi Klaas, deputy secretary general at the Ministry of Climate, says.

At the same time, Klaas (pictured) also stressed the need to deal further with climate change adaptation.

Appearing on ETV morning show "Terevisioon," Klaas said:

"Estonia, like the other countries which have signed up to the UN Climate Convention and the Paris Agreement, must follow the goals of those two agreements, namely that average temperature increases must be kept well below 2 degrees [celsius], and strive for a 1.5 degree increase. To this end, countries will prepare national greenhouse gas reduction plans and long-term strategies.

"The EU's climate goals have been set in line with this aim, so we will be getting any additional obligations [at COP28]," Klaas went on.

Klaas explained that the conference represents the first time that the Paris Agreement will be reviewed since it was concluded in 2015. "In the process, it will become clear how far we are from meeting our goals, collectively. An overview of this kind is needed as, in addition to having the goals, ensuring that real steps are taken towards fulfilling them is also needed," Klaas went on.

"In Estonia, we have always pragmatically borne in mind that we have to move towards this major goal via thoroughly thought-through and consistent steps. We expect the same from all the other nations, too."

The EU reportedly also wishes to come away from COP28 attaining the global goal of tripling the share of renewable energy, and doubling energy efficiency, Klaas added.

"Relating to the energy crisis and reducing dependence on Russian-origin fossil fuels, the EU, including Estonia, has in fact already taken on this goal. In our view, in addition to a positive environmental impact, this also has a significant impact on our security."

"Our hope is that such a direction will also be taken globally, as the energy sector is an important basis for other economic sectors to get the ability to reduce their own emissions," Klaas went on.

The EU is approaching the conference negotiations with unified positions, as agreed upon at the EU Environment Council, on November 16. "Estonia previously debated its positions at the Riigikogu's European Union Affairs Committee.

"At COP28, EU coordination will be taking place on a daily basis, whereby a negotiation strategy is agreed upon and guidelines are given to the negotiators taking part. Every member state can get a say in this process, so Estonia doest oo, based on the positions confirmed by the Riigikogu committee."

Klaas: Adaptation to climate change must be addressed

Klaas told "Terevision" host Reimo Sildvee that, since climate change is already taking place, we should learn how to better adapt to the phenomenon.

"In this, it is important for Estonia to consider how we can better adapt to climate change in every area," he said.

The deputy secretary general noted the growth in lengthy periods of summer heatwaves recorded in Estonia.

At the same time, buildings in Estonia are not really designed for hot summers, an issue particularly problematic in the cities (many people decamp from Tallinn to the countryside for lengthy periods in summer in any case – ed.), as urban design does not take high temperatures into account either.

Greater tree cover would provide better summer conditions as an immediate benefit, in addition to the longer term positive effect on CO2.

On the question of Sildvee, whether the state plans to impose obligations on, for instance, local governments Klaas referred to the preparation of the climate act which began in September.

"Its purpose is to determine what steps we need to take in order to prevent or slow down climate change, and to curb emissions. On the other hand, there are also principles we have to take into account as a whole, across different areas. In my opinion, the issue of climate change adaptation should surely be regulated there in the legislation, as it is still not being taken into account seriously enough," she said.

COP28 is as its name suggests the 28th such UN climate change conference since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992.

This year's conference runs from November 30 to December 12, and is being hosted by Expo City, Dubai.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

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