Dimas calls for greener measures

Greece needs to introduce extra measures to meet goals set in the Kyoto agreement as the country heads toward water shortages, higher temperatures and desertification, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said yesterday. «If Greece continues at the current rate, greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 34.7 percent in 2010,» said Dimas at a conference in Athens. «Only through the adoption of additional measures can Greece attain Kyoto goals.» In the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, the country has agreed that average greenhouse gas emissions between 2008-2012 will rise by no more than 25 percent relative to 1990 levels. «Whatever the investment decisions, particularly in energy, they will need to take into account the possibility of burdening the balance of carbon emissions,» added Dimas. Greece has been taken to court by the EU for not protecting its environment, including failing to adopt guidelines on waste management. In a bid to show a more proactive spirit in the protection of natural resources, the Environment Ministry yesterday fined 15 businesses a total of 450,000 euros for polluting the Asopos River, north of Athens. Since 2005 the ministry has fined 43 businesses a total of 2 million euros for dumping untreated waste in the river but it is unclear whether the amounts have been paid. Greece will face water shortages, higher temperatures and sea levels, and desertification that will damage agriculture and tourism because of climate change, added Dimas. «The problem of parched land and water shortages will intensify and desertification will speed up (in Greece),» Dimas said. «Areas in coastal towns such as Thessaloniki and Mesolongi will most likely find themselves under water.» The average annual temperature around the Mediterranean has increased by 1 degree Celsius compared with a 0.74 degree rise globally, said Dimas. He did not say to which period this rise was compared. Greece’s average rainfall in the past few years has fallen by about 30 percent since the mid-1970s. The month of January in 2007 was the driest in half a century while last June was the hottest on record, according to scientists.