FACT CHECK | No, climate ministry staff do not earn €17,000 per month

The overwhelmingly popular false claim has used publicly available data on the climate ministry and drawn false conclusions from it. In fact, the average salary of people working in the ministry does not exceed €3,000.

Facebook page „Nõuame Kaja Kallase tagasiastumist“ („We demand Kaja Kallas’s resignation“) ran a post comparing the salaries paid in the climate ministry with the newly confirmed pay rise for teachers. „They also took money away from families with many children. Now we know where it was all directed,“ it added.

Indeed, the financial information website Storybook shows that the climate ministry employs 310 people with an average gross monthly salary of €17,327. If this were true, it would be nine times the Estonian average. In fact, the data does not include entities under the ministry, such as the Environment Agency.

The EKRE’s „Uued Uudised“ portal also wrote on the same topic, calling the climate ministry „a ministry of ministries, where both money and people are currently being concentrated.“ „Greenwashing is going on, the money is flowing, but the teachers are only getting a pinch of it,“ it added.


The post analysed in this factcheck has reached 270,000 Facebook users in four days. It has been shared more than 1,800 times, commented on more than 70 times and received more than 300 reactions.

Facebook pages spread false information about the average salary of Ministry of Climate employees.



  • The data comes from Storybook’s information register, which also describes how the system interprets the raw data – the average earnings calculated are estimates, generated by the algorithm.
  • Open data from the Ministry of Climate includes labor costs of the ministry’s sub-departments, such as the Department of Transport. This means that there are actually more employees and the real average wage is lower.
  • The salaries of Estonian officials are publicly available. The highest salary a civil servant in a public administration can receive, according to the latest data, is just under €8,500 per month.

As visible in the screenshot of the factchecked post and in the link that accompanies it, the alleged average salary is taken from the Score Storybook (SSB) information register page. The SSB has also explained on its website how the averages are calculated and why they are not accurate. The page states:

Since the number of employees is the number of persons who worked on the last day of the quarter, and the amount of labor taxes paid is the amount paid on a cash basis during the quarter, it can be unambiguously (reasonably) inferred that the calculated average earnings are an estimate, because the number of employees and the labor taxes paid during the quarter are not always exactly comparable to one another in the company’s own real-time accounts.

For the same reason, the salaries of the Ministry of Climate are exorbitant – the labor taxes are reported in full, but the number of employees used in the automatic calculation is lower than the reality.

The Ministry of Climate has several different agencies. However, claims only reflect the number of staff in the ministry.


The structure of the Ministry of Climate includes a number of government agencies, which are managed by the Ministry. For example, the Transport Agency and the Environment Agency. People working in these agencies are not included in the 310 employees shown in the Storybook data for the fourth quarter of 2023. In fact, there are a total of 2,238 employees in the Ministry of Climate and the agencies it manages, for whom a total of €8,837,956.8 in labor taxes has been paid.

Based on the information in Storybook, the average estimated wage is calculated from the amount of labor taxes paid according to the number of employees. The underlying data for the algorithm comes from the database of the Tax and Customs Board.

Kertu Laadoga, a spokeswoman for the Tax and Customs Board, explained how the data could lead to this anomaly. „[Suborganizations’’] labor taxes are included in the ministry’s general data, as they submit income and social tax, compulsory funded pension contributions and the declaration of unemployment insurance contributions (TSD) to us as aggregated information,“ she explained. It is the same with local governments, for example.

According to data from the Ministry of Climate, the average general salary of its civil servants in January was €2,874. A detailed annual overview of the salaries of all civil servants in Estonia will be published on 1 May. As of 1 April 2023, the highest civil servant’s salary in a public administration is that of the chairman of the Tallinn District Court, who earns €8,422.

Verdict: false. As the information register does not include the employees’ number of the Ministry of Climate’s subordinate agencies, but does include the taxes paid on them, an error has occurred in the data. The average basic salary of the staff of the Ministry of Climate is not €17,327 but €2,874.

Data journalist Greete Palgi helped analyse the pay data.