At a meeting with trade union representatives on Monday, President Kersti Kaljulaid said that action needs to be taken to ensure that the Estonian energy industry's transition away from oil shale towards other fuel sources can happen smoothly and quickly, regional daily Põhjarannik reported. Regarding Estonia's own staple fuel, she said that the era of oil shale used for electricity production is coming to an end.
Oil shale is a thing of the past, and there is no sense in hoping that the past will come back, the president suggested. "We are looking for solutions for the future, not ways to drag out the past," Kaljulaid said. "I talked about this very frankly with the unions as well. There's no point hiding your head in the sand and hoping that the price of CO2 will drop again."
Talking about the looming threat of 1,300 mining and energy sector jobs potentially being lost for good, Kaljulaid said that it is important to be honest with people, and to help them by putting them on a small subsidy and keep them on standby while waiting for the situation in the energy market to change.
Ways to handle the transition have to be found that make people's exit to other sectors possible and fast, Kaljulaid added.
Meanwhile the disappearance of mining jobs isn't the only issue, but there is also the fact that the jobs now in danger are highly productive and paid accordingly, while alternatives in the region in terms of salaries couldn't keep up, the president said. "We need some kind of transitional measure to handle this until productivity increases elsewhere as well," she added.
The president also pointed out that in the past 15 years, attempts to find solutions for Ida-Viru County's situation typically focused on the carbon-emitting economy, a course of action now no longer available. In the given circumstances, she believes that fast and honest measures will likely produce a better outcome than trying to hold on to what is obviously an expiring industry, Kaljulaid said.
Editor: Dario Cavegn