Greece intends to convene a high-level conference in Athens next year on the protection of cultural and natural heritage from climate change, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York on Monday.
Mitsotakis said that the repercussions of climate change are already visible and underlined that by the end of 2019 the Greek government will adopt a new national policy for energy and the climate that will include a ban on single-use plastic starting in 2021, the shutdown of lignite-fired power plants by 2028 and the increase in the share of renewable resources to 35 percent by 2030.
Referring to the devastating fire in Mati, eastern Attica, that cost 102 lives last year, the Greek premier said that “the destruction shook the Greek public deeply.”
Speaking of the extreme conditions that contributed to the ferocity of the fire, Mitsotakis warned that climate change is not an issue that be put off for a few decades. It must be dealt with immediately, as its repercussions affect the lives of people who up to now showed no interest in the issue, he said.
The government has put the management of climate change fallout high on its policy agenda, as Greece's economic future is linked to its ability to protect its unique natural environment, Mitsotakis said, pointing to the rising sea level and its impact on the country's shores and islands, as well as the cost of extreme weather like storms, floods and heatwaves.
Mitsotakis also warned that climate change is an obstacle to economic development and prosperity, as it will adversely affect economic sectors such as agriculture and tourism.
Greece, he noted is fully committed to the Paris Agreement and the UN Agenda for 2030, with its 17 global Sustainable Development Goals and strongly supports the long-term strategic vision by 2050 of an EU economy that does not burden the climate.
Referring to the actions Greece has adopted and plans to take, the Greek prime minister said that his government would introduce a new and ambitious national strategy for energy and the climate by the end of the year.
“Our goal is to shut down all lignite-run electricity production units by 2028, and we plan to ban all single-use plastics throughout Greece by 2021,” he said.
Climate change could also disturb traditional ways of life in Greece, he said, adding that Athens will host a high-level conference in 2020 to “adopt a proposal for the protection of cultural and natural heritage from the repercussions of climate change.”
Wrapping up his address, Mitsotakis referred to the landmark Battle of Salamis, where the Athenian navy defeated the much larger navy of Persia and changed the course of history.
“The victory of Athens opened the way to Classical Athens's golden century. Under the shadow of the Acropolis, let's promise that a monument that has survived for 25 centuries will continue to serve as a beacon of beauty and natural balance, appreciated by generations to come,” he said. [ANA-MPA]