- 11 umbrella organizations: The climate targets set for Estonia cost thousands of jobs, where is the state's plan?
11 umbrella organizations: The climate targets set for Estonia cost thousands of jobs, where is the state's plan?
In order to fulfil the climate goals of the European Union, Estonia undertook a commitment, which will lead to the loss of nearly 14,000 jobs and at least 80 million euros less tax revenue. Business and employee umbrella organizations are waiting for explanations and a concrete action plan from the government to deal with the impacts.
Yesterday, 11 organizations sent a public appeal to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and the government of the Republic, where they draw attention to the fact that Estonia has taken on unaffordable obligations in the field of LULUCF, i.e., land use, land use change and forestry in the European Union. At the same time, the country lacks an analysis of the wider effects - for example on food safety and energy security.
Estonia will have to sequester 2.5 million tons of carbon in the field of land use and forestry by 2030. The Ministry of the Environment has estimated that in the forest sector alone, the fulfilment of the obligation will result in the loss of 14,000 jobs, mainly in rural areas, a decrease in tax revenue by 80 million euros per year, and a 2.5% drop in GDP. However, the impact on jobs in agriculture and the peat industry, and in the sectors that serve them, has not been taken into account here at all.
According to Mait Palts, the Director General of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we must deal with environmental problems and slow climate warming, but we must not forget the jobs and livelihoods of Estonian people and the international competitiveness of our companies.
"If we want to raise the salaries of rescuers, support the care of the elderly and increase family benefits, then we cannot ignore the fact that the exporting companies are the ones from whom the necessary tax money comes from," said Palts.
"People will not come along with the green transition if they feel that decisions which directly affect them are made somewhere far away in Europe without taking them into account, and Estonia's own politicians and officials do not care about them. In today's turbulent situation, this is a matter of security," he added. "Looking at how the neighbouring country Latvia has fought for itself a much smaller carbon sequestration obligation, we could have represented Estonia's interests better."
Aid measures promised by the European Union will not help Estonia either, because they will only be implemented when the European goal of 310 million tons of pan-European carbon sequestration from the LULUCF sectors is met. "This is how we have made ourselves dependent on other countries and their performance," stated Palts. "This directly contradicted the positions confirmed in the government and in the Parliament of Estonia, according to which Estonia could only accept the obligations imposed on us if it was accompanied by sufficient compensation measures."
The organizations that have signed the appeal expect the government to quickly come up with a concrete plan and action plan for how Estonia will deal with these impacts. It is also considered that Estonia must not give up negotiations and, referring to the energy crisis, must take the decision back to the European Council and reopen the discussion. It is difficult, but still possible.
The participants of the joint appeal are: Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Estonian Employers' Confederation, Confederation of Estonian Trade Unions, Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association, Estonian Forest Workers' Trade Union, Estonian Private Forest Association, Estonian Woodhouse Association, Estonian Power Plants and District Heating Association, Estonian Renewable Energy Chamber and Estonian Peat Association.
In the field of LULUCF, i.e., land use, land use change and forestry, the European Union has set a common target of increasing carbon sequestration to a total of 310 million tons by 2030. The goal set for Estonia is to bind 2.5 million tons, which is many times higher than, for example, Latvia (0.6 million tons). Estonia agreed to this commitment at the European Environment Council on 28 June, where Estonia was represented by Urmas Kruuse as Minister of the Environment.
The impact on the forest and timber sector comes from the explanatory letter of the Estonian government's decision, prepared by the Ministry of the Environment, which confirmed Estonia's positions. In addition to the effects on jobs and the economy, it was found that in the long term, the fulfilment of the commitment will actually increase carbon emissions from land use and forestry in Estonia.