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Estonian minister: Long-term goals must be kept in mind exiting the crisis

Estonian news, EWEA news, EWPA news, EWPA's blog, International News, Maailma uudised, old-news - Tuul June 1, 2020

Estonia’s Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk on Thursday offered to Minister of Finance Martin Helme an overview of the possibilities of exiting the European Union’s pollution quota trading scheme.

Replying to a question from the finance minister, Kokk said that the directive that serves as basis for the trading system does not set forth a possibility of temporary suspension of the system or provide a possibility for temporary suspension of the application of the directive by individual member states.

“Of course the government must support its residents in exiting the crisis, but we cannot do it dismissing the long-term climate goals. Exiting the system of trading in assigned pollution amounts would neither enable cost-saving for businesses nor opportunities for consumers to improve their coping with the crisis,” Kokk said.

He said that suspension of the fulfilment of the rules and requirements concerning the system of trading in assigned amounts would be deemed a violation of the EU law and the European Commission and the European Court of Justice would impose a punishment as well as effective  coercive measures on Estonia in order for the violation to be ended.

In addition, intentional non-application of the directive by an individual member state or its businesses would create an unequal competition situation on the market.

Insofar as is known to the Ministry of the Environment, neither Estonian companies nor other EU member states have formally raised the topic of temporary suspension of the emissions trading system or exiting it in connection with the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On the contrary, in April, 17 states issued a joint statement saying that the European Union must continue the implementation of the Green Deal put forward by the European Commission in December 2019 and exiting the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic must be consistent with the principles of moving towards climate neutrality,” the minister of the environment said.

He pointed out that in time for the video conference of EU heads of state and heads of government on April 10, the Estonian government adopted the country’s positions concerning the EU action plan for exiting the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for the restart of the economy.

“Estonia supports investments in transport and energy infrastructure and the renovation of buildings which help to achieve the EU climate goals. The Ministry of the Environment considers investments into the reconstruction of buildings to be energy efficient, the development of electric transport, wind farms, energy storage solutions and the completion of the project for the synchronization of electricity networks as very important. It is possible for the state to partially finance all these investments with income from the EU system of trading in assigned pollution amounts. During the period from 2013-2019, the Estonian state has received income in the amount of approximately 388 million euros from the auctions,” Kokk said.

In total 46 entities from Estonia from fields of activity such as production of electricity and heat, refining of mineral oil, and the production of cement, lime, glass, paper, ceramic products and ammonia are taking part in the emissions trading scheme.

Martin Helme and Rene Kokk both are ministers from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE).

Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8852, sise@bns.ee

Baltic News Service

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