ATHENS – After criticism from environmental groups about backing off plans to help fight climate change, Greece’s New Democracy government pushed through Parliament a watered-down measure that means coal will still be used to produce electricity until at least 2028.
Goals to wean off coal have been pushed back before and there was no indication whether the new date could be met in the wake of Greece trying to reduce dependence on Russian energy in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
The legislation sets interim targets for Greece to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2040 before achieving zero-net emissions by 2050 but environmentalists said those could be empty words.
The measure, said Reuters, requires the country to cut dependence on fossil fuels, including getting off coal in the 21st Century as progress toward solar and wind and sustainable sources has been slow.
“It’s an existential matter, a very important one, because it has to do with our lives, because it has to do with our children’s lives,” Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas told lawmakers.
“Is this just going to help protect the environment? Νο, it’s not. It also helps the country’s energy security,” he said, the report added, but the critics said they don’t believe it yet.
Greece is planning investments worth about 10 billion euros ($10.74 billion) to expand its power grid by 2030, while it speeds up the development of renewables to more than double their share in electricity production, the report added.
Energy prices have soared so much, partly due to the invasion of Ukraine’s fallout, that the government pumped 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) into subsidies to help housesholds deal with electricity and fuel costs.
As part of an additional package worth 3.2 billion euros ($3.44 billion,) the law said that Greece will cover a big part of the increases that households have seen in their power bills from December, 2021 until the end of May, the news agency also noted.