Emissions data queried

The government yesterday rebuffed criticism by an ecological group that published extracts of a United Nations report slamming Greece for allegedly declaring incorrect figures for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The report, invoked by WWF Hellas, notes that the figure published by Greek authorities for its CO2 emissions in 1990 was 4 million tons above the real amount. Had the submitted figure been accepted, Greece would have had more leeway for CO2 emissions within the framework of its Kyoto Protocol commitments, experts say. The report, published at the end of last month, also questions the «viability and transparency» of the Greek system for measuring CO2 emissions and claims that the Environment and Public Works Ministry ignored requests for talks with UN officials. Moreover, it criticizes the ministry’s decision to suspend its cooperation with the Athens Observatory on monitoring emissions. WWF Hellas Director Dimitris Karavellas echoed this criticism yesterday, noting, «The discrediting of the (monitoring system) raises questions about how serious the ministry is about tackling climate change.» The ministry was quick to rebuff the criticism, blaming the observatory. «Unfortunately, the observatory’s team was not able to adequately back the content of the report that it compiled, nor to prove the accuracy of its calculations,» a ministry statement said. The team condemned by the ministry comprises some of Greece’s most eminent scientists, many of whom have conducted inspections in other countries on the UN’s behalf and participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which recently received the Nobel Prize. Sources at the Athens Observatory yesterday denied that calculations were «wrong,» noting simply that the team had used a «different coefficient» for their calculations. They said that the figures «could be easily corrected… if someone is found to correct them.» The ministry claimed that the error had already been fixed, adding that it had entered into a new cooperation – for the monitoring of CO2 emissions – with chemists from the National Technical University of Athens. Meanwhile, the Athens Observatory’s president, Christos Zerefos, suggested that authorities were losing sight of the real problem. «We have to realize that tackling climate change is not about statistics,» he said. «Greece must look at its own potential and stop trailing behind the EU,» he added.