We, 5.10.2022

Environment minister: Decision to resign tied to health and family

Environment minister: Decision to resign tied to health and family
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Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center Party) steps back.
Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center Party) steps back. Photo: Tairo Lutter

Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder (Center Party) said at a press conference on Tuesday that the reasons for his resignation concern his health and family and that he has come to the conclusion that self-preservation requires taking a time-out. Erki Savisaar poised to take over as environment minister.

Postimees publishes Mölder’s statement in full

I have spent the last ten months contributing with dedication to protecting the Estonian nature and environment as environment minister. This time period has included numerous meetings with interest groups and inspiring people, businesslike and sometimes heated debates and finding solutions for environmental challenges.

Everything I have done has been motivated by my desire to protect and conserve our diverse natural environment. The environment minister has things to fight for, things where a step back is in order, targets to which ambition needs to be added and items where balance needs to be found. It is inevitable that topics needs to be prioritized and focus needs to be on the most urgent among them.

As I said in one of my first interviews as minister, forestry is definitely the central environmental topic in Estonia today. The public debate over our green gold reserves has become more heated with every passing year, while the split between interest groups has widened. Agreements on how to protect and manage Estonian forests are not easily achieved. It is a problem and I believe one of the main challenges has been to find common ground between interest groups to make sure our forests are sustainably protected but also sensibly managed.

I can highlight as an important milestone bringing the forestry development plan out of deadlock. We have created a forestry development plan managing committee comprised mostly of scientists that will help the ministry put together a new knowledge-based development plan in which process different interest groups will be involved.

I have been working toward easing felling pressure on state forests from the first. For this purpose, we have agreed that State Forest Manager Ltd. (RMK) will be required to pay less dividend in the future. The dividend expectation for RMK will be lowered by €8 million.

The other topic I focused on is achieving climate neutrality. This is reflected in Estonia’s and EU positions at climate negotiations in Glasgow as well as efforts in Estonia.

Estonia supports the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” target. We are in the process of agreeing on a set of general goals in Estonia. Said efforts that transcend ministries are being coordinated by the Green Policy Managing Committee.

Achieving climate neutrality cannot be left to chance. In addition, it comes with considerable social benefits: more energy-efficient homes that are cheaper to heat and cool, clean environment, environmentally friendly transport and a greener and more resilient energy system. We are currently discussing package details with interest groups and other ministries to shape Estonia’s positions for what are shaping up to be difficult negotiations.

At times, it is necessary to make difficult decisions in life. Moving forward sometimes requires taking a step back. I have decided to leave the post of environment minister. The decision to resign has to do with my health and family. The position of environment minister, as well as previous offices have required great attention and dedication as a result of which I have been neglecting myself. This has been especially hard on my loved ones. Therefore, I have by today recognized that I need to slow down. For myself and my family.

I have notified the party chairman and prime minister. I have asked the party to find a replacement to make sure important environmental initiatives would not go overlooked. I believe that the incoming environment minister will be able to realize outstanding projects and ideas and continue to protect environmental principles.

Political and environmental topics continue to occupy a prominent position in my life and I will continue working as a member of the Riigikogu.

I would take this chance to thank party chairman Jüri Ratas for his trust and the opportunity to serve as minister! I thank Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and the Reform Party for government cooperation! My cooperation with the PM and coalition partner has been seamless, with many important environmental issues resolved thanks to mutual understanding on the cabinet level.

I would also like to thank the Ministry of the Environment and people in its administrative area with whom I had the honor of working, as well as people whose daily efforts help safeguard our environment!

I can say with certainty that the sustainability and continued well-being of Estonia’s natural environment is the result of work done by dedicated people who contribute all of their strength and know-how for the benefit of people and nature on a daily basis.

Erki Savisaar poised to take over as environment minister

Incoming Minister of the Environment Erki Savisaar (Center) thanked the party chairman and board for the opportunity. “If my candidacy is approved by the prime minister and president, I will do my level best in this office. Green package negotiations and specification on the international level are ongoing. These disputes have a tendency for the intense. I have been involved with environmental topics for quite a long time in the Tallinn city council, Riigikogu Environment Committee and the Baltic Assembly. The Center Party has always contributed to environmentally sustainable development. We can take the examples of Tallinn’s green corridors and public transport development and its culmination in the Green European Capital title. We also want the Estonian natural environment to become cleaner at a sensible pace so as not to harm the competitive ability of Estonian entrepreneurs. I will have more messages for you when I can get to work,” Savisaar said on Tuesday.

Erki Savisaar poised to take over as environment minister.
Erki Savisaar poised to take over as environment minister. Photo: Tairo Lutter