NEWS

As disaster looms for the global environment, Greece is still ruining the atmosphere with bad energy sources

Greece would win a bronze medal in a contest for the highest fossil fuel emissions. It is already ranked fourth for increased emissions (together with Canada) with a rise of 26.6 percent between 1990 and 2004. As the globe is threatened with a complete upheaval of weather patterns, Greece is wasting energy and has a particularly polluting economy. To make matters worse it is situated in the fragile Mediterranean area, which will be adversely affected if temperatures soar. Greece has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, whose targets are inadequate as it is. In the protocol the country won the right to increase emissions by 25 percent (by 2010) as it was considered to be a developing country. By 2005 that ceiling had been exceeded out of sheer greed. The country gobbles up energy, and total energy consumption shows an average increase of 2.8 percent a year (1990-2003), one of the highest among the EU member states according to the European Organization for the Environment. For every euro produced, the country pollutes 41 percent more than the EU average. Hostage to fossil fuels The country is hostage to fossil fuels (lignite and petrol) and energy is wasted throughout the system of production and consumption. Greek governments insist on lignite, a particularly polluting fuel with low energy performance. Over half (60 percent) of the energy produced by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) is from lignite and very little from renewable resources (0.14 percent). Lignite meets 30 percent of energy consumption. This results in 43 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) being churned out from lignite plants every year, 40 percent of all emissions. Instead of introducing a scheme that would wean the country from lignite reliance, the government has given permits for new lignite plants to be built, including private ones, in Vevi, Elassona and Drama. As lignite is produced in the country and not imported, it is considered to be the cheaper option but it actually contaminates everything around it, destroying large areas. This has not stopped PPC from buying more emission rights. Apart from lignite, petrol meets 57 percent of energy demand, a figure that has remained unchanged for the past decade. Renewable sources Renewable sources have not budged from the 5 percent mark for the past decade in a country that is drenched in sunlight and has the best wind field in Europe. The EU study «Photovoltaics 2010» estimated that home solar applications could meet 20 to 30 percent of electricity demand in Greece. This would save over a kilo of CO2 for every solar kilowatt. With delays by the present government in completing the institutional framework, targets to cover 20 percent of electricity production with renewable resources cannot be met. Greece’s energy-thirsty buildings also contribute to global warming as a great deal of energy is lost. Added to this is excessive car use, inadequate development of public transport and a contraband gasoline. Controls to ensure industrial units adhere to environmental regulations are riddled with loopholes. The concrete and asphalt sprawl, the burning of forests, and building in forested areas do not help the current state of affairs, which seems to serve specific interests, those involved in the energy racket. Unfortunately, rather than reduce emissions Greek governments place a premium on polluting through development. Greece’s Second National Plan for Emissions Trade was rejected by the EU Commission on the grounds that it was too favorable to businesses. The government did not accept the EU rejection and sent a letter with its objections. When it is evident that 10 Kyoto Protocols are required to avert climatic changes and development needs more energy-efficient economies, Greece’s stance spells disaster.