Estonian Climate Adaptation Strategy for Infrastructure and Energy (ENFRA)

Submitted by Julia Barrott 27th November 2015 12:15
enfra snow - climate adaptation.

Snow on power-lines (Photo credit: Elektrilevi)

Introduction

Estonia is a country where future effects of climate change are estimated not to bring about cataclysmic changes. The coastal country is already used to frequent rains and strong winds as well as temperatures spanning over 60 degrees Celsius from winter to summer. However, in accordance with the EU requirement for a climate change adaptation strategy to be created in all member countries, the Estonian Climate Adaptation Strategy for Infrastructure and Energy (ENFRA) project, led by SEI Tallinn, was carried out between January and August of 2015. 

ENFRA aimed to supplement knowledge gaps on climate change impacts, adaptation needs and options. The goal was to help society to better cope with any negative impacts that may arise as a result of climate change and extreme weather events. In particular, the project targeted the infrastructure and energy sectors, with a focus on how to mainstream adaptation into daily activities and ensure that adaptation in Estonia occurs in a coordinated and thoughtful way. The project included a range of awareness-raising activities for interest groups and the general public on climate change impacts, adaptation options and best practices for implementation.

The project team produced a comprehensive overview of expected climate change impacts in Estonia, and a list of suitable and cost-efficient adaptation measures. This document is available to download from the right-hand column of this page ('featured document'), or via the link under further resources. On the basis of these results, the Ministry of Environment will prepare an Estonian National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and implementation plan, for approval by the Government.

Along with the national government, the project is expected to inform and benefit local governments, state infrastructure and public service companies, and private companies involved in electricity and heat production and transmission, communications, construction, road-building and maintenance, and other activities that may be affected by climate change.


Photo credit: Tairo Lutter /Õhtuleht

Key Messages

  • Estonian weather will be characterized by more rainy and windy winters, an increasing number of zero degree days, more prevalent heat waves and storms, and the rise of the sea level.
  • These elements must be considered when designing and building new infrastructure - there is an increased need for the clarification of construction requirements, inspection, and proper risk assessment.
  • Climate change will have both negative and positive effects on the Estonian infrastructure and energy sector. (For example warmer winters will lead to a cut down on heating bills, whereas hotter summers can lead to the need of increased air conditioning in buildings);
  • The sectors most vulnerable to climate change factors (electric and drainage networks, buildings and transport infrastructure) are the sectors where climate change adaptation measures have been applied already today. Yet further measures are needed in terms of the future climate risks;
  • The most important goal is to ensure the functioning of infrastructure and the energy sector on the occurrence of any climatic events, so that the vital services dependent on infrastructure would always be available to the people.

Estonian Climate Scenarios from 2015 up to 2100
(RCP 8.5, see futher resources for information on this)

Barriers

  • Low awareness about the climate change adaptation opportunities and options in general
  • Some of the effects of climate change are unknown
  • Unknown megatrends which influence each infrastructure and energy sector areas, i.e. changes in society and politics etc.
  • Lack of money to implement the proposed measures both on local and national level
  • Lack of trust from local level to fully realise the neccessity to implement the climate adaptation measures (i.e. hard to invest)
  • The question of who should be responsible
  • Probability of the occurrence of climate change impacts is unknown
  • The impacts of climate change are location dependent which means different type of actions for local governments to be taken
  • More research at local level is needed

The tip of the Kakumäe peninsula in the western border of Tallinn is shrinking at an average speed of 0.5 metres per year. The lack of ice in the winter and increased winds and storms will accelerate the erosion. On the photo you can see a road that once existed on the coastal edge. (Photo credit: Kerli Kirsimaa/ SEI Tallinn)

Further resources