OECD Environmental Performance Reviews

1990-0090 (online)
1990-0104 (print)
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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress in achieving domestic and international environmental policy commitments and goals, together with policy-relevant recommendations.  They address the management of air, water, waste, biodiversity, and land; they examine the relationship between economic and social policy and the environment; and they describe the subject country’s international co-operation in such areas as climate change, marine pollution and development co-operation.  Each report includes a broad range of economic and environmental statistical data. On average, five or six countries are reviewed each year.

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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Estonia 2017

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01 Mar 2017
9789264268319 (EPUB) ; 9789264268241 (PDF) ;9789264268210(print)

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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress towards their environmental policy objectives. Reviews promote peer learning, enhance government accountability, and provide targeted recommendations aimed at improving environmental performance, individually and collectively. They are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data, and evidence-based analysis. Each cycle of Environmental Performance Reviews covers all OECD countries and selected partner economies. The most recent reviews include Chile and France (2016).

This report is the first Environmental Performance Review of Estonia. It evaluates progress towards sustainable development and green growth, with a focus on waste and materials management, and mining and the environment.

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  • Preface

    Even with a small territory, Estonia has large oil shale reserves and extensive forest and water resources. Its EU membership has led to the incorporation of EU directives into domestic environmental legislation and to a greater interconnection with European energy networks. Estonia has achieved considerable progress in decoupling environmental pressures from economic growth. However, its dependence on oil shale, which dominates the energy mix, makes its economy very carbon- and energy-intensive, with low material productivity. Greenhouse gas emissions have risen significantly over the last decade. Estonia will need to align its energy and climate policies to reverse this trend and comply with its commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

  • Foreword

    The principal aim of the OECD Environmental Performance Review programme is to help member and selected partner countries improve their individual and collective performance in environmental management by:

  • Reader's guide

    The following signs are used in Figures and Tables:

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Basic statistics of Estonia

    (2015 or latest available s year)

  • Executive summary

    Estonia has made significant progress in decoupling economic growth from air pollution and energy consumption. However, its economy is the most carbon intensive and the third most energy intensive in the OECD, largely due to its heavy reliance on oil shale. In 2014, oil shale accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total primary energy supply and almost 90% of electricity generation. Use of renewable sources of energy has increased by more than 80% since 2000 due to extensive use of biomass in the heating sector and has almost reached the OECD average. However, the country’s overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased by 23% between 2000 and 2014, with the energy sector remaining the largest GHG emitter.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    The Assessment and recommendations present the main findings of the Environmental Performance Review of Estonia and identify 30 recommendations to help Estonia make further progress towards its environmental policy objectives and international commitments. The OECD Working Party on Environmental Performance reviewed and approved the Assessment and recommendations at its meeting on 7 November 2016.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Progress towards sustainable development

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    • Key environmental trends

      Estonia has made significant progress in improving its environmental performance by decoupling economic growth from the primary environmental pressures. However, it still faces some challenges linked to the extensive use of natural resources, which results in high emissions intensities and low material productivity of the economy. This chapter presents the key socio-economic developments and considers Estonia’s progress in moving towards a low-carbon and energy-efficient economy, resource efficiency and sustainable management of natural assets, including biodiversity and water resources.

    • Environmental governance and management

      Estonia has made significant progress in upgrading its regulatory framework for environmental management and advancing environmental democracy. However, more needs to be done to improve the coherence of environmental requirements and ensure better compliance with them, as well as to build human and technical capacity at the local level. This chapter analyses Estonia’s environmental governance system. It reviews the regulatory framework for environmental impact assessment and permitting, as well as compliance assurance instruments. The chapter also assesses progress in promoting public participation in decision making and access to environmental information, education and justice.

    • Green growth

      Estonia is pursuing an ambitious green tax reform, operates several support schemes to stimulate green investment and has a growing environmental goods and services sector. However, vehicle taxation is limited, and pollution taxes are too low to have an impact on environmental performance of firms. This chapter presents Estonia’s progress in using economic and tax policies to reach environmental objectives. It analyses public and private investment in environment-related infrastructure and reviews the promotion of environmental technologies, goods and services as a source of economic growth and jobs.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Progress towards selected environmental objectives

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    • Waste and materials management

      Estonia has successfully undertaken a major transition in municipal solid waste management, from heavy reliance on landfilling to energy recovery through incineration. However, it is unlikely to reach its recycling targets, and managing high volumes of hazardous waste from combustion and processing of oil shale remains an important challenge. This chapter provides an overview of trends in waste generation and material consumption, related policy and institutional frameworks, and analyses Estonia’s policies for managing major waste streams and its steps in promoting a circular economy.

    • Mining and the environment

      Oil shale mining and use are the dominant source of environmental impact in Estonia. While pollution releases from the sector have declined over the last decade, major challenges remain with respect to waste management, air and water quality, particularly in north-eastern Estonia. This chapter provides an overview of trends in the extraction and use of oil shale and other mineral resources, highlights the related environmental impacts and analyses the effectiveness of policy instruments Estonia applies to address them.

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