Prime minister urges more action on environment

Jüri Ratas in the ETV studios earlier in the week.
Jüri Ratas in the ETV studios earlier in the week. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) noted on Friday the importance of reducing the environmental impact of human activity, as an obligation to the planet and the generations to come, Baltic News Service reports. He also addressed the issue of oil shale energy production, and the role of the European Union in climate issues.

Addressing a conference in Tallinn jointly hosted by the Government Office and the Academy of Sciences, Ratas pointed out that achieving a climate-neutral economy and society requires substantive negotiation within society, as well as analyses of facts and figures.  

"We all must be on board with developments. Therefore, we need understanding, support, agreement and planning in order for our people, regions, sectors, and parts of the society to have sufficient certainty that we can accomplish this," Ratas continued.

"Estonia has great experience with reorganization of our economy and carrying out fundamental change. We are a dynamic and resourceful society. We have gained a lot from the digital turnaround; our way of thinking has attracted investments here, created jobs and provided export opportunities," Ratas said.

"All this offers healthy opportunities for moving forward and helps to vigorously advance solutions directed to the future. Of course, at the same time preserving the environment and saving resources. Many innovative ideas in this field are a result of the thinking and development work from our own scientists, about which we will hear plenty at today's conference," he said.

Sectors in need of the biggest change and modernization in Estonia are energy production and transport, Ratas continued.

"The mainstay of electricity production in Estonia has been oil shale, which is no longer competitive in a world that cares for climate, when it is used in the way that we are accustomed to. A transition to other resources is inevitable, but this can only happen in an inclusive and gradual manner. To fulfil climate goals, we must also solve social and economic challenges," the prime minister said.

The position of oil shale and ensuing layoffs which would result from reducing Estonia's dependency on it has been hotly debated in recent months.

Ratas also highlighted the role of the EU and its member states as champions and leaders in global climate talks. 

"There is a will and opportunities among the countries of Europe to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and arrive at a neutral economic model. These decisions not only make sense, but are also vital and very much in step with other major changes in our economic environment, such as automation, digitalization, or development of artificial intelligence," the prime minister said.

The conference, entitled "Climate Neutrality – Ruin or Success?", was held in collaboration between the Government Office and the Academy of Sciences.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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