Tallinn University of Technology

On Wednesday, 17 November, from 15:00 to 17:00, TalTech will be hosting a virtual seminar titled ‘Green Economy Transition – What to Expect?’ In the seminar, Maive Rute, a member of the Council of the Tallinn University of Technology and Deputy Director-General for Industry, Internal Market, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) at the European Commission, will be speaking about the impacts of the green transition. Also sharing their thoughts about these issues will be researchers and experts at TalTech: Jarek Kurnitski, Rutt Hints, and Marek Tiits. The seminar will be moderated by Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Vice-Rector of the Green Transition of TalTech.

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This summer, the European Commission proposed a climate package that is one of the most transformative to ever come out of Brussels. Under this package, every sector from aviation to agriculture and fuel trade to forestry will be involved in the reduction of carbon emissions. In the coming months, the second part of the climate package will be revealed, dealing with global supply chains, among other things. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the instability of a number of global supply chains, which are now facing serious challenges, such as the low availability of semiconductors. Europe's over-reliance on critical raw materials and goods makes us vulnerable. Such strategic dependencies need to be addressed, especially given that the green transition will increase demand for a variety of minerals, including metals, by severalfold. The presentation will discuss how Europe’s new industrial policy addresses these challenges and what this might mean for our current economic model.

The green transition is best realised through areas that would need to be addressed anyway to increase overall well-being or achieve other goals. The construction industry offers an intriguing example of how one green transition has already been completed. The presentation will explore how the transition to the construction of nearly zero-energy buildings became possible and what this means for ordinary citizens. Another topic that ties into the green transition is the modernisation of the existing building stock and the streamlining of the district heating network. This has been achieved in Estonia mainly through funding from KredEx and the Estonian Centre for Environmental Investments. Here, too, it is interesting to consider how taxpayers’ money has been utilised and what the result has been, i.e. who have been the winners in this process. The experience of the construction industry as a leading field in the green transition is also worth applying to other areas where major shifts are yet to come.

The transition to a carbon-neutral economy will greatly increase demand for key metal and mineral raw materials. Is this an impossible mission for Europe, given that high-tech manufacturing here is heavily dependent on import for a number of critical metals? What opportunities are there in Estonia for the emergence of new raw material-based sectors, such as rare earth metals?

Economic history shows that economic development and the introduction of new products are neither spontaneous nor random, but have been rooted in half a century long technological and economic revolutions. The British Industrial Revolution laid the foundations for the dizzyingly rapid development of Europe’s economy compared to previous centuries. The new opportunities afforded by information technology have been one of the most important drivers of economic and social development in recent decades.

Will the green transition lay the groundwork for the next technological revolution? What will this means for the economies of Europe and Estonia?

The topic will be discussed in the paneldiscussion. Moderator of the discussion is Vice-Rector for Green Transition Helen Sooväli-Sepping.


Maive Rute

Maive Rute

Maive Rute is a member of the Council of the Tallinn University of Technology and Deputy Director-General for Industry, Internal Market, Enterprise, and SMEs (DG GROW) at the European Commission.
As Deputy Director-General of DG GROW, Maive Rute’s primary area of responsibility is industrial policy. Areas of focus include the reduction of the climate footprint of enterprises, green and digital transition, resilience of supply chains, promotion of investment and boosting of competitiveness, standardisation, and the protection of intellectual property. Maive is a member of several steering committees and councils, including at: InvestEU, Horizon Europe, EISMEA, EUIPO, and the Tallinn University of Technology. From 2009 to 2019, Maive worked at the European Commission as a senior manager in the field of research and innovation, having been appointed Director of Enterprise Policy in 2005. In Estonia, Maive Rute has served as Director of Kredex and as Deputy Governor of Eesti Pank. She has graduated from the Estonian University of Life Sciences as an economist, received an MBA from Danube University in Austria, and an MA from CERIS in Belgium.

Jarek Kurnitski

Jarek Kurnitski

Professor and academician Jarek Kurnitski is the director of the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture of TalTech. He is internationally renowned for his contribution to the development of the European definitions of nearly zero-energy buildings and for the total energy use measures of Estonia and Finland, which have already brought about a revolution in the construction industry in both countries. During the COVID pandemic, he has drafted a number of ventilation guidelines and was one of the 36 top researchers who swayed the WHO to recognise the airborne transmissibility of the virus.

Rutt Hints

Rutt Hints

Rutt Hints is a geologist and the head of a research group for mineral resources and applied geology at TalTech. The research she has conducted on the genesis and exploitation of low-quality ores focuses on unlocking the potential of critical raw materials and identifying the best options for their valorisation.

Marek Tiits

Marek Tiits

Marek Tiits is a researcher and entrepreneur. His main areas of research are development economics and technology governance. Over the past 20 years, Marek has held various positions as an expert and adviser, including with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, the European Commission, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Helen Sooväli-Sepping

Moderating: Helen Sooväli-Sepping

Helen Sooväli-Sepping has held the position of Vice-Rector for the Green Transition at the Tallinn University of Technology since September 2021. In 2020–2021, she served as Vice-Rector for Sustainable Development at the Tallinn University of Technology, and she was also the editor-in-chief of the Estonian human development report for 2019/2020 ‘Spatial Choices for an Urbanised Society’.

Event information is updated on an ongoing basis