ATHENS – Still overly dependent on coal during the 21st Century to power electric plants, Greece’s New Democray governments plans to move faster toward alternative and renewable sources ranging from more wind power to solar and greener sources.
It will take a while and the pledge from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to switch energy gears came as the 40 countries at the United Nations climate conference in Scotland in November vowed to end using coal by 2050.
That’s too late to help reduce the effects of climate change and as governments repeatedly change the target dates and move away from previous promises to stop using coal but Mitsotakis said it will happen in Greece.
The country ranks among the highest in the European Union in using coal, the dirtiest possible fuel and hasn’t fully harnessed the power of the sun which is prevalent year round and has no plans for nuclear energy.
The site Grist noted that the draft of a new climate proposal included plans to stop using all of the coal-fired plans and phase out coal production within the next six years, by the end of 2027. That remains to be seen.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas told the conference that the coal is of “historic importance” to deal with a climate crisis blamed for wildfires across the country this summer.
As of 2019, roughly 12 percent of Greece’s energy consumption came from coal and there are plans to also get people to switch to electric cars, including government subsidies, to slow the use of gasoline-powered vehicles more quickly.
Internal combustion engines wouldn’t be allowed in new cars by 2030, five years before the EU’s proposed ban on them, the site said, and by 2025 all buildings are supposed to cease using oil for heat and some industrial structures to use solar.
While environmental activists lauded the talk, they noted that Mitsotakis had already promised to end coal use by 2025 as governments constantly kick the can down the road with vows that keep changing dates.
They also called for stronger language on phasing out oil and gas production and use, as well as greater commitments to preserve biodiversity.
”Its provisions are not strong enough,” Nikos Petrou, President of Greece’s Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, told the site. “Despite the positive elements … we are concerned that it lacks the bold measures required by current conditions.”