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Riigikogu speaker talks climate neutrality with Hungarian president

President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE).
President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) was in Hungary this week, a visit which included a meeting with President of Hungary János Áder (Fidesz). At the meeting in Budapest, the two discussed challenges that achieving climate neutrality are likely set for energy security.

Estonia's government had previously opposed the EU's goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. However, on Thursday morning, the coalition announced an about-face on Thursday morning, saying it would join in with the mission.

The announcement came at more or less the same time that incoming European Commissioner for Estonia Kadri Simson (Centre) was facing a grilling by European Parliament members on energy and climate issues. Simson has the energy portfolio.

Põlluaas said that as Estonia decided this week to sign up to climate neutrality by 2050, carbon emissions from the country must not exceed their capture capacity.

"We would like to focus on renewable energy solutions, but sadly technology today cannot offer us a quick substitute for oil shale," Põlluaas said, according to a Riigikogu press release.

"We can also expect investments that would be massive for a small country, as well as a socio-economic challenge since tens of thousands of jobs are tied to the oil shale industry," Põlluaas continued, adding that although the EU does have support mechanisms for moving away from reliance on coal, there are no support measures for oil shale burning, which forms the overwhelming majority of Estonia's fossil fuels sector.

President Áder said that the EU's new budgetary period is currently being prepared, including an extra focus on climate related targets. He expressed his hope that these plans would also include the necessary measures for moving away from oil shale.

Some of the questions faced by Simson on Thursday asked why the Estonian government had continued to invest in the sector, if it plans to scale it down.

Henn Põlluaas was accompanied by foreign affairs committee chair Enn Eesmaa (Centre) and member of the National Defence Committee Madis Milling (Reform).

The meeting took place at the invitation of Põlluaas' counterpart in the Hungarian parliament.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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