Environmental protection is far down the list of Greek businesses’ priorities, despite the fact that they also face the painful effects of climate change, as the recent fires in the country have shown.
A survey by the European Investment Bank called “European Enterprises and Climate Change 2020/21” shows that only 18% of Greek companies invest in climate change-mitigating measures, which is not only far from the European Union average of 45%, but places Greece in last place among EU members.
Topping the list is Finland, where 62% of its companies have taken measures to combat climate change, followed by the Netherlands (58%).
At least another 23% of Greek firms are considering investing in such measures, which is still low compared to the EU average of 41%.
Indicative of Greek firms’ low priority of the issue is that very few invest in energy efficiency despite the many benefits accruing from such investments, such as limiting carbon dioxide emissions, and thus mitigating the effects of climate change, energy savings, leading to long-term reduction in operating costs, as well as improving safety in the provision of energy. The EIB survey shows that only 26% of Greek firms have invested in energy efficiency improvements, compared to an EU average of 47%. Even worse, these firms only spent 6% of their total budget on such improvements, compared to a 12% EU-wide average.
At least in the EU, the pandemic has not negatively impacted environmentally friendly investments; in fact they were boosted. In 2019, 37% of EU firms invested in improving energy efficiency; in 2020, 47% did so.
At the same time, 69% of Greek firms, versus 57% in the EU, overall, are concerned about energy costs.
Furthermore, only 19% of Greek firms (41% in the EU) have set climate change targets, and 17% (23% in the EU) employ personnel dealing with environmental issues.
A part of these low investments can be attributed to a low sense of urgency regarding the dangers of climate change: 20% of Greek firms believe its effects constitute a grave danger to them. But this is not much lower than the EU average (23%).