ATHENS — "We have an obligation to build a future of justice, where people and nature will coexist in harmony and fruitfulness. A future in which the coming generations will look back with pride at all that we have accomplished. It is a fight that will certainly be difficult but one which we do not, however, have the right to lose," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an op-ed article published by the Spanish newspaper "El Pais" on Friday, as the the leaders of the EU's southern countries gathered in Athens for the EU Med 9 summit.
Mitsotakis proposed action to protect the environment from the threat of the climate crisis and raised the alarm about the future. Under the headline "What will future generations think of us?" he wrote about the disasters being experienced throughout the world as a result of the climate crisis and the need to act promptly, adding that the EU Med summit is called upon to propose solutions that will not only concern future historians but also the current and future generations.
"This is something confirmed by the experience from this year's summer in the Mediterranean and Europe, which were tested simultaneously by fires and flooding," the prime minister said.
Mitsotakis proposed an alignment of public and private investments in the direction of adapting to climate change and achieving climate neutrality, speeding up infrastructure free of carbon emissions and highlighted the need to restore the environmental damage from floods and fires to preserve biodiversity, as well as to exchange experiences and technologies. He also called for joint action and measures to control overfishing, manage the recovery of tourism post-Covid and upgrade the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
"The Presidents of France and Cyprus, the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Slovenia and Greece, the foreign minister of Portugal are in the city that gave birth to democracy to serve two universal goals: peace, security and cooperation in the Mediterranean but also the protection of life from nature's vengeance," Mitsotakis noted, referring to the record temperatures and extended drought during the summer in Greece and many other countries, where lives and forests were lost to fires.
"The climate crisis, therefore, is no longer an abstract concept. It has landed on our beautiful shores and poses a visible threat to our environment, our societies and our economies," he added.
He was confident that the summit will agree on an plan for immediate and ambitious action in this direction, as well as reaffirming the commitment to containing global warming to 1.5C and working with other EU partners ahead of the UN Climate Conference COP26.
Mitsotakis also emphasised that the climate crisis demands sweeping change of all public policy, citing post-Covid tourism as an example: "It must be done on the basis of new models, no longer based on the number of visitors but with an approach centred on nature and human behaviour."