Estonia

   

Environmental Policies

#9
Key Findings
With a generally strong record in recent years, Estonia receives high rankings in international comparison (rank 9) with regard to environmental policies. Its score in this area has declined by 0.3 points relative to its 2014 level.

The country has followed a series of emissions-reductions plans, targeting a 25% renewable-energy share by 2020, with emissions kept within 11% of 2005 levels. By 2030, the country aims to reach a 50% renewables share, and by 2050, it plans to decrease emissions by nearly 80% compared to their 1990 levels.

Water pollution has decreased in recent years thanks to renovation of the water infrastructure. Forest-cutting volumes have stabilized in recent years, but there is significant demand for more responsible forestry practices. Road construction and increasing traffic is a serious risk to biodiversity.

The country has reversed its position, and now supports the EU goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. It participates in most important global and European agreements.

Environment

#7

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
8
The Ministry of Environment manages an integrated system of environmental protection, which covers the entire country, and ensures the preservation of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication is responsible for the energy sector and efforts to address climate change. The current national development plan, Estonia 2020, defines several goals for energy production and diversification. These include a target that renewable energy sources supply 25% of total energy consumed, total energy consumption be brought down to 2010 levels and greenhouse gas emissions be kept within 11% of 2005 levels. The next national development plan for the energy sector, which will run until 2030, was approved in October 2017. The next plan aims to increase the proportion of total energy consumed supplied by renewable energy sources to 50%, generate 80% of heat energy from renewable sources and limit vehicular fuel consumption to 2012 levels by 2030. Various efforts to increase the energy efficiency of buildings are already being implemented, with further measures planned (e.g., new buildings must conform to a near zero-energy standard). By 2050, Estonia aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 80% compared to 1990.

Estonia has invested significantly in renovation and water infrastructure. As a result, water pollution has decreased and the quality of tap water has improved. However, most of the country’s lakes and rivers are very small, and therefore highly sensitive to any pollution whatsoever.

More than half of Estonia’s territory is forested. Commercial forests account for 75% of all forest area, while the remaining 25% has been placed under various protection regimes. Although the volume of cutting has remained stable in recent years, citizens are sensitive to the issue and there is significant public demand for more responsible forest management.

Finally, Estonia has a rich biological diversity, being home to a wide variety of wildlife species. To keep the population of its main species stable, the government regulates hunting through licensing and limits. One of the main risks for biodiversity is increasing traffic and road construction, though the newest roads have been constructed in accordance with environmental protection regulations. Strong emphasis has been put on environmental concerns in the process of planning the route for the Rail Baltic high-speed railway.

Global Environmental Protection

#11

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
6
Estonia has joined most important global and European agreements, and displayed its commitment to these international agreements and targets. Estonia has ratified the Paris Agreement, and is taking steps to switch to more environmentally sustainable economic and behavioral models. In October 2014, Estonia agreed to the EU energy and climate goals for 2030. At the end of 2019, the government decided to support the EU goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, having opposed the goal in June 2019 along with three other eastern EU member states.

The Estonian government occasionally contributes to the global fight against climate change by supporting the export of green technologies to developing countries.

A global bottom-up civil society movement, World Cleanup Day, was born in Estonia and has become one of the largest contemporary civil society movements worldwide. In 2019, 180 countries and 20 million people came together to rid the planet of trash – cleaning up litter and mismanaged waste from beaches, rivers, forests and streets.

Citations:
https://www.worldcleanupday.org/about/
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