Dear Prime ministers,

We, the signatories to this joint call, are writing to you ahead of the upcoming meeting of the European Council at which you will discuss the increase of the EU’s 2030 climate target.

We are in a state of climate emergency. Yet, our current commitments and actions are not enough to avert the most severe impacts of climate change. Unless we take rapid and decisive climate action, we are heading towards an increase of 3.2°C by the end of the century. Wildfires, increased droughts and floods already heavily impact businesses, citizens and communities, particularly the most vulnerable ones. Insufficient, delayed or lack of climate action today is expected to cause welfare losses of 175 € billion per year in the EU and will have tremendous consequences for generations to come. In the Baltics, unabated climate change will increase the occurrence of extreme weather events and cause risks of infrastructure damage, adverse health effects, shifts in vegetation growing seasons and hydrological regime.

This year is a decisive year for climate action as it marks the deadline under the Paris Agreement for all countries to revise their commitments for 2030 emission reductions. With the recent proposal from the European Commission to increase the target to at least 55% emission reductions, the EU is set to adopt a new target before the end of the year. The Commission proposal is a first step in the right direction, but more is needed. We welcome the European Parliament’s recently adopted position to increase the target to 60%. According to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report however, all countries need to reduce annual emissions by 7.6% between 2020 and 2030 in order to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C. For the EU this would mean achieving at least 65% greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

This level of ambition is not only necessary to prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change on current and future generations, but it is also feasible as shown by several studies. These recent studies reveal that reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030 could help save the EU more than € 10 trillion in terms of avoided environmental and climate damage. An increased, sufficiently ambitious and science-based climate target is essential in guiding the necessary investments under the upcoming multiannual EU budget and the EU recovery funds towards a just and sustainable transition. Besides generating numerous societal co-benefits in terms of public health improvements, a truly green recovery will help Europe avoid severe threats to biodiversity and the environment and could enable the European Union to become a global leader in climate-neutral technology and create safer and more sustainable jobs. This requires thorough strategic planning that also addresses wider challenges of the transition. Design of energy infrastructure to minimize material use and facilitate higher reuse and recycling rates for renewable energy and storage technologies and further incentives to prevent unsustainable mining should minimize negative impacts on our environment. Studies show that investing in energy transition technologies creates close to three times more jobs than fossil fuels do, for each million dollars of spending.

The Baltic region can be a driver of positive change and a benefactor of increased EU climate action. While emissions in the region have only marginally decreased after 1993, the Baltic Climate Declaration in October last year underlined the need for joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions further. Ambitious climate policy and action can work as a catalyst for greater cooperation and exchange in the region. The recently announced second phase of the project to synchronise the Baltic States' electricity grid with the continental European network by 2025, which will contribute to a higher share of renewable electricity in the European single market, is a such a positive example of increased cooperation between Baltic states.

This is why we, the signatories to this joint statement, call on you to support an increase of the EU’s climate target to at least 65% in your discussions at the European Council and to ensure that public investments are directed towards accelerating the just transition of our economies.

We trust that you will take these points into your discussions at the upcoming meeting and count on you to secure the protection of our planet and the well-being of the citizens of the Baltic region.

Read the signed PDF on the joint Baltic call

More information:

Piret Väinsalu
Estonian Fund for Nature
Climate expert
+372 5812 0287

Katre Liiv
Estonian Fund for Nature
Communication specialist
+372 5076 519