Greece Fully Supports EU Targets to Fight Climate Change, Mitsotakis Says

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Spain's caretaker PM Pedro Sanchez shake hands at the COP25 climate talks summit in Madrid. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitris Papamitsos)

ATHENS – Greece is prepared to do its part to face the global threat of climate change by proposing a radical overhaul of its economic model, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday, in his address to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) taking place in Madrid.

“Three quarters of all emissions come from just 12 countries – which are not even present here. Greece is not one of them. But we are assuming our fair share of responsibility by proposing a radical overhaul of our economic model. We fully support the ambitious targets set by the European Union to limit global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees,” Mitsotakis said.

He underlined that protecting the marine, natural and cultural environment was a priority for Greece and once again referred to a Greek initiative for protecting cultural heritage from the ravages of the climate crisis. He also stressed the need for the global community to come together in order to face the climate challenge:

“We are here, because we are facing a threat of global scale. Never before have we had such awareness of the damage we are causing to our planet, but also never before have we had the knowledge and the power to change course and to protect our unique environment.

“Decarbonizing our economy requires a complete overhaul of our economies. It is a momentous challenge but also a unique opportunity. Fighting climate change is also the most complicated collective action problem our global community has ever faced. Change by the people who are most alarmed will not be enough. What is also needed is change in the lives those who do not yet much care,” he said.

The Greek prime minister presented Greece’s plan of action for reducing its dependence on fossil fuels and moving toward a clean economy:

“For us, the protection of our unique land, marine, and cultural natural environment is a source of comparative advantage. We have finalised our revised National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). The highlight of the plan is our decision to shut down all our lignite powered electricity plants the latest by 2028.

“At the same time we intend to increase the penetration of renewables for electricity production to 60 pct within the next decade. The era of dirty coal is over. We encourage other European countries that also heavily rely on coal to set equally ambitious targets. And we are looking to the European Commission to support the just transition of our coal-producing regions by providing those countries that step up to the challenge with adequate funding.”

Mitsotakis said that the Greek government expects to mobilise investments in excess of 40 billion euros for the next decade, noting that only market forces responding to the proper incentives can “transform the machinery of our modes of production.”

“We hope that Greece, until recently stigmatised by its deep economic crisis, can be a paradigm for how energy transition and climate action can inspire hope in the new generation and create green jobs and economic growth,” he added.

The prime minister then went on to note that climate change does not only affect coastlines and forests but also cultural treasures, and that the loss of our cultural heritage is irreplaceable.

“We intend to convene a high level conference in Athens next year to highlight this issue, which is frequently lost in the grand debate around climate change. Under the shadow of the Acropolis, let us make sure that what withstood the test of time will not destroyed by the folly of man,” he concluded.

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