The Greek director of the WWF conservation group was on Tuesday joined by his counterparts from France, Spain and Italy as they expressed their “grave concern” over the potential development of new onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling projects in Western Greece.
In a letter made public Tuesday, the four WWF chiefs urged Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to take action to protect Greece’s rich biodiversity and reconsider these plans.
“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 said.
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.
A recent report commissioned by the Greek chapter of WWF found that the overall impact of a single major spill could reach 2.2 billion euros – mainly due to the impact on inbound tourism expenditure
“In the unfortunate, yet plausible scenario of a single major oil spill, up to 44,000 jobs would be lost overnight,” the report said.
Fance, Spain and Italy have already taken steps toward phasing out oil and gas operations, WWF said.