Tallinn’s vision to become climate neutral

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a new report Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis which gives a current overview of the state of our climate. In it, the IPCC defines climate change as a proved scientific fact for the first time in history.

On the photo: Scottish Highland cattle maintaining the Paljassaare Natura area in Tallinn in the summer

Tallinn has developed a vision for accomplishing its green goals and intends to be the ringleader of the green transition in Estonia and the region. The Tallinn City Government confirmed a plan for adapting to a sustainable energy management system and to climate change entitled Climate-neutral Tallinn 2030 or simply the climate plan. This addresses both mitigation and adaption to climate change. Tallinn’s climate plan is based on the European Green Deal and the European Union’s long term vision A Clean Planet for All which the Estonian Government approved in October 2019.

Tallinn’s short term goal is a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2007 when the first inventory was conducted. In 2007, the total of Tallinn’s emissions was 3,836 kt CO2 and by 2019, it had gone down to 2,970 kt CO2.

Graph_Tallinn CO2 emission.PNG

Graph. Total of Tallinn’s emissions in kt CO2

According to Tallinn’s climate plan, the efforts to mitigate climate change will be focused in three areas:

  • increasing the energy efficiency of buildings;
  • eliminating fossil fuels in the transport sector and fostering other transportation methods;
  • energetics, where the focus is mainly on increasing the use of clean energy.

The aims for the building sector foresee an increase of energy efficiency in municipal and apartment buildings. This would mean saving on the costs of heating, hot water, gas and electricity and a healthy indoor environment. In order to realise the aims of the energy management field, the diversified use of renewable energy will increase in district heating and in the development of district cooling networks. If we take all these steps, it will be possible to satisfy the increasing need for energy without burdening the environment. In the energy management field it is also vital to establish innovative energy cooperatives and transition to clean energy, mostly by using electricity and hydrogen from renewable energy sources.

In the transportation field, public transportation will switch to biofuels and electricity. The utilisation of new technologies creates the conditions for improving the maintenance of roads, eliminating the pollution and noise coming from transport and improving the organisation of transport. As a result of the climate strategy, there will be a comprehensive network of cycling paths that can be used all year around.

In the upcoming years, the Estonian capital must adapt to drastic weather conditions and hedge the risks of climate change. The main focuses in adapting to climate change are developing the city’s green infrastructure, reducing health risks connected to the extreme weather conditions, water management (ensuring the quality of drinking water and eliminating the risks coming from rain water) and maintaining and improving biodiversity.

Many topics such as transport, buildings and land use are connected to the mitigation and adaption to climate change. Integrating different fields is vital in making strategic decisions and planning everyday activities.

In order to implement the climate plan, Tallinn needs to make a long term investment, have the courage to use new solutions and technologies and cooperate with companies, research facilities and the community. In order to assemble all of the important processes of the green transition such as digitisation, the strategic planning of the city, circular economy and planning the budget strategy of the city, Tallinn created a new structural unit – Tallinn Strategy Centre. This was established in consideration of the general development objectives of the city as well as the actions necessary for the green transition and to assemble this competence into one structure. Simultaneously, Tallinn is developing a more detailed green transition model which covers the city structures, communities and research facilities.

Climate-neutral Tallinn Tallinn Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan 2030