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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 09.12.2023, 03:03

Seizing the potential of climate solutions – and making the Baltics leaders in green economy

By Lauri Tammiste, Stockholm Environment Institute Tallinn Centre (SEI Tallinn), Director (ESTONIA) & Oras Tynkkynen, Senior Advisor, Carbon-neutral circular economy, Sitra (FINLAND), 10.12.2018.Print version
As the most important UN climate conference COP24 since the historic Paris meeting is being held in Katowice, Poland, it is also time for the Baltics to think about delivering on the Paris Agreement’s promises. A recent study by SEI Tallinn and the Finnish innovation fund Sitra reveals that the Baltics have great potential in doing so. The key is scaling up Nordic solutions that have already proved their effectiveness.

The Baltic countries’ development over the past decades has been remarkable in an array of sectors. For example, during the past ten years, the Baltics have shown one of the highest renewable energy growth rates in the EU. This has been thanks to the decisions of the governments in the region.

At the same time, the analysis carried out by SEI Tallinn and Sitra shows that the Baltics can do even better and show more ambition, thereby further improving their environmental performance. Green economy is the way to go.

It is very positive to note that Estonia has its Energy Development Plan until 2030 and climate policy in place until 2050. Similarly, Latvia and Lithuania have new strategies in place or in the making. However, according to the European Commission's assessment, the countries’ environmental goals cannot be met following the existing policies alone, therefore new and more effective solutions are needed.

Our recent analysis shows that, if the Baltics, instead of pursuing their current development trends, would scale up 10 Nordic solutions that have proved their effectiveness, there would be possibility for considerable progress. For example, Estonia would be able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to the current development trajectory.

As the share of oil shale in Estonia’s power generation will have to decrease significantly in the not too far future, the Estonian society must prepare for a transition that would be as smooth as possible. The wider and more efficient use of local renewable energy is one way of achieving this.

The 10 Nordic solutions that could be scaled up in the Baltics and beyond are well known to all and have a track record of proved effectiveness. The solutions include solar and wind power, combined heat and power production, electric vehicles as well as energy efficiency in buildings and the industry.

In the long run, the introduction of these solutions could also save money. Thus, net savings by the year 2030 could amount to as much as a total of € 1.2 billion in the analysed countries (the Baltics, as well as Poland and Ukraine) combined. The solutions bringing about the biggest benefit would be increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and industry, where the benefits clearly outweigh the investment cost over time.

The Baltics have a great potential to reduce their carbon emissions much more than just following their current development path. The proposed Nordic solutions would enable the Baltics to increase the ambitions of their climate commitments and support the EU to do the same, as required by the recent landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In addition to direct cost savings and benefits, the implementation of the Nordic solutions can also bring about socio-economic benefits in the Baltics. Examples of this include improved air quality and reduced health risks associated with air pollution, improved security of energy supply, job creation, as well as additional tax revenues.

The findings are the results of the "Green to Scale II" survey carried out by the SEI Tallinn (Estonia) and Sitra (Finland) with the financial support of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Read the full report:

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