NEWS

Greek presence in Bali

As the United Nations climate talks opened in Bali last week aimed at negotiating an international policy on climate change, in Athens there was controversy over the government’s representation at the conference. Delegates from 191 countries taking part in the UN Climate Change Conference are trying to hammer out an ambitious plan for the post-Kyoto age, providing for large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and laying the foundations for a joint international agreement by 2009 at the latest. Greek environmental groups complained that the provisional list of delegates released on the eve of the conference showed only one from Greece – New Democracy deputy Kyriakos Mitsotakis. «WWF Hellas is trying to work out what our country’s positions are on climate change. If someone knows, please send them at once to Bali,» said WWF Hellas in an announcement. Last Monday, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias issued a statement rebutting these criticisms. «The truth is that Greece is going (to Bali) with very specific positions. Don’t they know that Greece is a member of the EU, the most progressive group of countries regarding climate change, and that these countries have taken a united stand?» said the statement. It emerged that a larger delegation had also left for Bali, including ministry Secretary General Theodoros Skylakakis and Deputy Environment and Public Works Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis. In a statement to Kathimerini English Edition yesterday, Skylakakis said the Greek delegation «had a good presence, with a statement delivered by… Kalo-yiannis, a number of high-level meetings with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. We also had a side event of the Greek Foreign Ministry with Unicef on climate change and children, where I had the opportunity to participate, and we promoted Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis’s initiative on funding adaptation projects in Africa and small island developing states, with a series of meetings with representatives of the African Union, CARICOM and AOSIS. In all cases the ministry’s initiative was very well received and formal discussions will follow.» «The issue is not personal,» WWF’s Achilleas Plitharas commented to Kathimerini English Edition yesterday. «What is important to us is for the country to do the best it can to fight climate change. We hope that from now on the Greek state will open up proceedings and consult with all stakeholders in order to work out ambitious policies for Greece.» According to Greenpeace, Greece’s energy efficiency is 66.1 percent, compared to the EU average of 71.3 percent, putting the country in fourth-last place with regard to the proper exploitation of total energy resources. «It is certain that the negotiations which began here in Bali will continue for the next two years and much will be decided in the final stages of negotiations,» added Skylakakis. «Some progress has already been achieved… The extent of the progress made will depend however on tomorrow’s final negotiations.» [email protected] Events this week – Carl Linnaeus, who developed the system of scientific classification still used in the biological sciences, was born 300 years ago this year. He is known both as the father of modern taxonomy and one of the fathers of modern ecology. «He was one of the first people to say that man was responsible for destroying the environment and that man could reverse it,» said Professor Carl-Olof Jacobson of the University of Uppsala. «To some extent, it is him we have to thank for Sweden’s current environmental policy.» To mark the 300th anniversary of his birth, the Swedish Embassy in Athens is holding a number of events in cooperation with the Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage and the Kifissia Municipal Flower Show, from December 13-21 at the Athinais Cultural Center. (Info: Swedish Embassy, tel 210.726.6100; Athinais, tel 210.348.0000.) – Synaspismos Left Coalition is holding a conference on climate change on Monday, December 17 at the Athens Imperial Hotel, Karaiskaki Square at 6 p.m.