We call for rapid action from the Estonian government to stop climate change: Estonia must achieve climate neutrality by 2035 via science-based fair solutions that involve the whole society.
Estonia must act in a science-based, decisive and rapid manner to stop climate change and transition to a fair, sustainable and smart economy. As the first step, the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Parliament must set an objective to achieve climate neutrality by 2035 and review current national plans affecting the achievement thereof. At the same time, there is a need to promote pan-European and global climate crisis solving agreements and demand that other countries also take decisive action by setting an example.
The global climate crisis, of which scientists have warned us for the last 40 years, has arrived. According to the UN-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), continuing the current course is highly dangerous. To avoid the catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis, it is vital to keep the increase in global temperature below 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial revolution level. Global warming is on track to hit the critical limit by 2030. Upon exceeding the 1.5 degree limit, we risk irreversible changes and disastrous consequences to human society and the natural environment. Loss of biodiversity, more frequent extreme weather conditions such as droughts and storms, forest fires, rising sea levels and other impacts reduce our ability to cope in our living environment and considerably increase migration from areas that have become uninhabitable. Science is clear on this: we need to act now and decisively because the window of opportunity to ensure a habitable planet for mankind is closing. Having sensed the severity of the situation, many countries have declared a climate crisis and over the years, tens of thousands of scientists have made repeated appeals.
If we want to keep the average global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees and avoid possible catastrophic consequences, the global emission of greenhouse gases must be reduced by half in the next decade and reach the net zero goal (climate neutrality) everywhere in the world by 2050. Climate neutrality means that a country does not emit more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than it removes. This, however, can only be achieved if all European Union countries, including Estonia, set an international example and commit to the achievement of climate neutrality as quickly as possible. While Estonia’s emissions are small on the global scale in absolute terms, we are still one of the biggest pollutants in the European Union per capita and must show solidarity in order to achieve vital intergovernmental cooperation.
To achieve climate neutrality, we need to make fundamental changes in our economic and life organisation following the IPCC recommendations. This begins with a clear decision: by setting a new goal with regard to the fundamentals of climate policy by 2050 and introducing specific strategies to national development plans. As individuals, we can reduce our carbon footprint to a certain degree, but national decisions determine where we are all heading collectively. Unfortunately, many documents shaping Estonian climate policy that are in force or under preparation are not up to date; they are unambitious and fail to take into account the severity of the climate crisis. As a key topic, national plans must contribute to the rapid transition from fossil fuels to combined solutions based on renewable energy sources. To achieve this, we must above all review the Energy Sector Development Plan 2030. In doing so, we must also support the just transition of the Ida-Viru County so that affected people are guaranteed fair income and future prospects.
Estonia will present the European Union with two documents describing our country’s climate activities by the beginning of 2020: a long-term climate strategy, i.e. the Fundamentals of Climate Policy until 2050, and the Estonian National Energy and Climate Plan 2030, which is still under development. Neither document is currently ambitious enough to appropriately address the climate crisis. The plans of member states will reveal whether the European Union can establish climate neutrality as its objective and set the necessary international example in order to fulfil the Paris Agreement in 2020.
The initiative is led by Estonian Fund for Nature, the Estonian Green Movement and the Estonian Environmental Law Centre. Nine more citizen associations joined the initiative - The Estonian Seminatural Community Conservation Association, Koosloodus Foundation, Fridays For Future Estonia, the Environmental Protection Students’ Society of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Let´s do it Foundation, the Estonian Ornithological Society, the Baltic Environmental Forum, the Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation and the Estonian Vegan Society have also joined the initiative.