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Proposed climate law could introduce congestion tax or tolls

Cars.
Cars. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Drivers could face new taxes under legislation designed to help Estonia meet its climate goals. The Ministry for Climate says no firm plans have been made yet.

Estonia is forecast to create 12 million tonnes of greenhouse gases by 2035, but its target is only 8 million. A new law is looking at how to tackle the problem.

"The latest projections show that we will need to take additional measures to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Additional action is also needed in different sectors to meet the 2030 targets," said Laura Remmelgas, director general of the Climate Department at the Ministry of Climate.

The ministry's working groups have suggested a congestion tax to reduce emissions, new congestion zones where only zero-emission cars could be driven, or a usage-based tax.

Additionally, a road user fee is also being considered and cars with higher emissions could be charged more.

"We have now mapped out all the options and the next step should be to assess the socio-economic impact of these measures and their impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And only on this basis will it be possible to make decisions on what the most sensible actions are in the various sectors," Remmelgas said.        

However, entrepreneurs have also completed a transport roadmap under the Rohetiigr (Green Tiger) scheme, which aims to reduce the sector's footprint by 90 percent by 2040. For example, they believe public transport should be prioritized.

"Move to alternative fuels, clear electrification of passenger cars, electricity, biomethane, other fuels and electrification of ferry lines on the so-called heavy transport side, battery trains on the railways. Passenger car use accounts for 65 percent of the national greenhouse gas balance, we need to address car ownership," said Rene Pärt, the editor-in-chief of the transport roadmap.

The Green Tiger roadmap organizers support congestion and user taxes but said people should not be punished in areas where there are no alternatives.

"In our roadmap, we also foresee that on the one hand, it is possible to reduce behaviors and emissions through tax policy, or the 'stick'. But it must certainly be accompanied by technological development and the development of the 'carrot' and support for the sector, especially the freight transport sector," said Pärt.

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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

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