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Estonian policymakers say EU 2040 climate target is fair

Maia-Liisa Anton.
Maia-Liisa Anton. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The European Commission will propose on Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 90 percent by 2040. Estonian policymakers say this is a reasonable target, and Maia-Liisa Anton of the Climate Council says it could be even more ambitious.

According to Politico, the European Commission on Tuesday endorsed a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 compared to 1990 levels. It has already set a target of a 55 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and complete climate neutrality by 2050.

Some countries, such as Denmark, Poland and Bulgaria, have already publicly supported the Commission's proposal. Others, such as Hungary, are more skeptical, as are some MEPs from the European People's Party (EPP), who believe that such targets should not be set in the face of farmers' protests.

Kristi Klaas, deputy undersecretary for climate policy at the Ministry of Climate, said Estonia has not yet developed its position, but what the Commission is proposing seems appropriate.

"If we are to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the transition must be as smooth as possible. We are certainly not in favor of pushing as much as we can to 2040 and then setting unrealistically high expectations for the last ten years," Klaas said.

The 90 percent proposed by the Commission would apply across the EU. What target Estonia will adopt will be determined by the climate bill. Keit Kasemets, undersecretary for the Ministry of Climate, said that whatever is agreed, countries should have flexibility to meet the target.

"Essentially, the most challenging area for all countries today is agriculture, where there are relatively few solutions that can be solved through technological development and innovation. This is certainly a very challenging area for us. Similarly, in the transport sector, there are really no definitive technological solutions today that will ensure that transport as a whole is climate-neutral. So there are still questions," he said.

Maia-Liisa Anton, coordinator of the Council of Estonian Environmental NGOs (or Council of Estonian eNGOs; in Estonian EKO) and a member of the Estonian Climate Council, said that neither Estonia's nor the European Union's ambitions are really in line with the Paris climate agreement.

"If we look at the European Union's commitments under the Paris Agreement, 90 percent is actually a minimum. Under the Paris Agreement, countries have to contribute proportionally to mitigating climate change, and since EU countries are actually above the global average in terms of emissions, we should reduce our greenhouse gas emissions faster. A reduction of about 65 percent by 2030 would be more or less in line with the Paris Agreement, and climate neutrality by 2040 is where the European Union should be to really be in line with the Paris Agreement," Anton said.

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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Kristina Kersa

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