Recession drives down CO2 gases

Greenhouse gas emissions have dropped significantly over the past three years but this is due to the repercussions of a deepening economic crisis rather than the implementation of an economic policy designed to tackle climate change, Kathimerini has learned.

On Monday, the International Energy Agency issued a warning that global carbon dioxide emissions had reached record levels. Greece, however, appears to be one of the few developed countries where emissions are down. There are no statistics available for last year but data for the years before show a drop.

The reduction appears to have begun in 2008, when the recession first took hold in Greece. Emissions dropped from 128.5 million tons in 2008 to 122.5 million tons in 2009.

Of these emissions, some 100 million tons are attributed to energy production. Emissions from the agriculture sector are reportedly at their lowest level in 20 years, indicating a slump in farming activity.

Meanwhile there has also been a reduction in greenhouse gases emitted from waste management – from 5.2 million tons in 1998 to 3.7 million tons in 2009.

Although there are no statistics available yet for 2010, it appears likely that the drop in emissions will continue, experts say.

One of the reasons is that the economic recession will deepen; another is that the Public Power Corporation has reportedly taken advantage of higher levels of rainfall in recent years to produce more energy from its hydroelectric plants, reducing its use of the low-grade coal lignite, which is more polluting.

In comments to Kathimerini, Greenpeace spokesman Dimitris Ibrahim said the development was less than encouraging.

?The big problem is that the drop in emissions is not the result of some plan, some policy for the remodeling of the Greek economy which aims to tackle climate change,? he said.

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