Are there significant differences between Estonian and EU positions in Glasgow?
That is a trick question as Estonia is part of the EU. Estonia is not represented independently in COP26 negotiations where we want to enforce the Paris agreement and its rules. The EU delegation and its negotiators represent all member states. Estonian negotiators have daily coordination meetings with them to make sure EU representatives have a strong mandate and support.
Talking about global agreements, the Paris agreement and the accompanying legal nuances, Estonia’s interests are clearly expressed through the EU. We have no national interests here. However, availability of data is also being discussed at COP26 and that clearly coincides with Estonia’s national interests and DEAL goals.
What is the European Union’s expectation for the climate conference?
We mostly hope the rest of the world will follow the EU’s example. [European Commission President] Ursula von der Leyen launched the green turn in Europe when she became president almost two years ago. It is something the world had never seen before.
The EU has gotten further than the initial goal of having climate neutrality by 2050 in under two years. We now want to reduce carbon emissions by 55 percent by the year 2030. These are extremely progressive goals as is, while we have gone a step further.
We have climate legislation, it is all legally inevitable. We are presently negotiating concrete legal acts for reaching the targets. Nothing of the sort has been done anywhere else in the world.
The Commission has put forward its proposals in the “Fit for 55” package. These proposals cover all areas, from agriculture to taxation of energy. Member states are currently in the process of discussing them.
The process has gotten quite far in the Estonian government. Officials have formulated their proposals. However, it is very likely the EU will not be able to pass the package this year and that it will go to France (the EU presidency for the first half of 2022 – ed.). It is evident member states will need more time for legal analyses as legislative proposals are comprehensive.
The European Union, as a major economic bloc, will introduce some mechanisms of putting pressure on other countries for more ambitious climate goals in the COP26 context. Looking at what has brought us to COP26, more important than the conference itself is how other countries have joined in with more ambitious goals than previously.
What can Estonian diplomats, who represent a very small country, do in Glasgow and Brussels to help better protect the environment?