How restoring bogs is helping to reduce emissions
Luhasoo, Estonia - Photo credit, Kaisa Äärmaa
Welcome to the twenty-eighth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Estonia ranks eight highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and ranks highest under the ‘agriculture’ and ‘biodiversity and habitat’ indicators within the index. Their ‘agriculture’ ranking is based on their efficient use of nitrogen and the ‘biodiversity and habitat’ score is reflected in their conservation efforts. ‘Climate and energy’ is an indicator where improvement can be found and in particular CO2 emissions per KWH, a measurement where Estonia is well above the OECD average.
Paris Agreement Targets
As part of the EU’s 2020 emissions reduction pledge to the UNFCCC, Estonia has agreed to a CO2 emissions reduction target of 15% compared with 2005 levels by 2020. Estonia also has agreed to reduce emissions by 13% by 2030 and will sign up to a target reduction of 80% by 2050, both reductions are against 1990 levels.
Estonia ranks 10th in Carbon Market Watch’s ‘EU Climate Leaderboard’. Estonia loses ranking marks for not supporting the limititation of land use and ETS loopholes when calculating CO2 emissions.
According to Statistics Estonia energy data, electricity generated from renewable sources grew from 12% of the overall portion in 2011 to 17% in 2015. In 2011, Estonia achieved its 2020 EU target of having 25% of final energy consumption being derived from renewable sources, this has been maintained in the subsequent years.
However, according to the report entitled ‘Environmental Performance Review of Estonia’, Estonia has the most carbon-intensive economy in the OECD. Estonia is over-reliant on shale oil, shale oil represented 70% of the Estonian energy supply in 2014, resulting in the production of 533 kg per USD 1,000 of GDP, significantly above the OECD average of 226 kg.
Estonia is making efforts to restore its bogs and reduce CO2 emissions in the process. The restored bogs will naturally sequester carbon. This is a two-fold benefit as the bogs that were dried out during Soviet rule, leak up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The knock-on effect of the draining of the bogs was that dead sphagnum moss emitted CO2. Prior to this, the wet conditions preserved the dead sphagnum and helped suppress its decomposition. Through the LIFE Mires project Estonia has received in excess of EUR 6m in EU funding towards the restoration of its bogs to their natural state through the raising water levels. If successful this project will be rolled out across other EU countries with bogs in the need of repair such as Germany and Poland.
As part of Estonia’s commitment to meeting its CO2 emissions targets, the country should take advantage of being a member of the EU’s electricity and gas markets in order to source cleaner energy and thus reduce its reliance on shale oil while it continues to grow its renewable energy sector. The restoration of its bogs offers multiple opportunities to Estonia such as the further reduction of CO2 emissions, carbon sequestration, and tourism.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and converting it into liquid fuels.