Mixed marks for Greece on environment

Greece is a European laggard when it comes to recycling waste and developing renewable energy sources but has made real progress in areas such as wastewater management and organic farming, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report which is to be presented by a committee of experts from Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University at a conference in the northern city tomorrow. Greece has the second-worst record in Europe, after Portugal, when it comes to recycling its waste and has a similarly poor record in alternative energy use, air pollution and solid waste management, according to EEA’s report, which was discussed by environmentalists and legal experts at a press conference yesterday. The report, which was issued last year, blames «economic development, intense urbanization and changes in consumption patterns» for a 42.5 percent increase in the volume of municipal waste generated in Greece from 1995 to 2002. Inadequate waste disposal practices are also blamed for the country’s forest fires. However, Greece has also made «significant progress» in the management of wastewater and hazardous waste and received the EEA’s praise after 97.6 percent of its coasts inspected in 2004 complied with EU requirements. As regards Greece’s freshwater resources, the report noted that «the problems of water management mainly concern issues of quantity and not quality.» «On a European level, we are managing our waste better while the quality of our groundwater and seawater has improved… We also have cars that pollute less,» law professor Angeliki Kallia told a press conference yesterday. Scientists attending tomorrow’s conference will reveal the results of laboratory tests measuring air pollution in Thessaloniki – considered one of Europe’s most polluted cities. The latest tests reportedly reveal that car emissions account for at least 50 percent of air pollution. On a general level, the EEA’s report warned that global warming and dwindling natural resources constitute the severest threats to mankind. «Without effective action over several decades, the increase in temperatures on our planet will cause the ice to melt in the north and the south to become desertified,» said EEA’s Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade.

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