There Are Many Opportunities Hidden in the Changes Relating to the Green Transition
The panel discussion of the representatives of the political groups of the Riigikogu on 20 October 2021 focused on the green transition, Estonia’s contribution to it and our capability to meet the targets the European Commission set out in its ambitious package of ideas “Fit for 55”. The panellists were Yoko Alender (Reform Party), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa), Erki Savisaar (Centre Party) and Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party). The discussion was moderated by Tiina Kaalep, Editor-in-Chief of Riigikogu Toimetised.
YOKO ALENDER: We are convinced that the green transition is like a river which humankind in its wisdom, and at the same time also maybe in its stupidity, has itself caused to flow. The situation we are in, where the exploitation of natural resources for welfare has exceeded the sustainable level, must be reversed.
HEIKI HEPNER: The people of Estonia must not be sacrificed to the climate transition with a cheerleading campaign. Sometimes it looks as if it has been decided to do it, and then to see if anybody will be living in this country. Yes, we have the big global task to save the Earth. However, we should not focus on fighting against the deforestation of another 100,000 hectares for oil palm plantations somewhere in the South Sea Islands. Our goal is that the Estonian people would live here through the ages and thrive.
ERKI SAVISAAR: At present, this green transition remains the topic for a very small group, some kind of elite or businessmen. The man in the street will not benefit from it in any way. On the contrary, they will see that prices are rising and life is becoming more complicated – you must not buy a cheap car, you have to buy an expensive car with batteries, which does not start in winter or cannot be used to drive long distances, and so on. They cannot see how it could be of any use to them.
A transition should work so that everybody feels that it is beneficial to them. It is of course good that our children will have a future. However, we also know perfectly well that, in a 20-year perspective, nothing really bad is going to happen.
RIINA SIKKUT: We need to agree in our society on how Estonia will make a green transition. The European Commission may design the “Fit for 55” package in a way that is very positive for Estonia, but it is a framework somebody else has designed for us. What is it that we really want to do? How will we save the Estonian nature and the people of Estonia, and keep them out of poverty? As we have no plan of our own, we are now kicking against what is proposed to us from outside and are trying to adapt it. However, we do not know what we really want to do because we have never agreed upon it and there is no one to lead the whole discussion.