ATHENS – The Greek chapter of the WWF conservation group said Greece should not pursue offshore oil and gas drilling projects that could prove financially lucrative but which the group said would be damaging to the environment.
In a letter, the Greek branch joined counterparts from France, Spain and Italy in opposition to the plans, urging Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to protec the country’s biodiversity and now allow drilling off Greece’s western coast.
“We ask of you to lead in developing a vision of a zero carbon economy, by stopping all licensing procedures for oil and gas drilling operations, and planning Greece’s national energy and climate strategy with a view to a sustainable future,” they said.
“When so many countries are progressively banning oil and gas projects in their territories, the fact that Greece decides to take a deep dive into a high footprint, fading market seems more like a trip backwards, than a step towards a brighter future,” they added.
In the letter, the WWF directors warned of the “catastrophic impacts” that an oil spill accident would have on Greece’s tourism economy, the local communities that depend on it, as well as the national economy, Kathimerini reported.
A recent WWF Greece report claimed that the overall impact of a single major spill could reach 2.2 billion euros ($2.49 billion) and cut deep into tourism spending by scaring off visitors.
“In the unfortunate, yet plausible scenario of a single major oil spill, up to 44,000 jobs would be lost overnight,” the report said of losses. France, Spain and Italy have already taken steps toward phasing out oil and gas operations, WWF said.