NEWS

PM defends green credentials

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis insisted yesterday that Greece is making good progress in becoming more environmentally friendly, as European Union leaders agreed in Brussels to finalize by the end of the year ambitious plans to combat climate change. Following the two-day summit in the Belgian capital, the leaders of the 27 member states said they hoped that the new legislation would be enforced next spring. The EU is aiming for a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in comparison to 1990 levels. Karamanlis insisted that despite criticism of Greece’s apparent lack of initiative in fighting climate change, such as creating a separate environment ministry, the country is making strides in improving its green credentials. «Greece is on the right path,» said the prime minister. «We will more than meet the commitment we signed on to in the Kyoto Protocol. There were problems in the past but we are making progress now.» Greece’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by more than 25 percent between 1990 and 2004. Under the treaty, Greece has to reduce its emissions by 8 percent by 2012. The EU’s measures are more drastic and there is concern this could have a negative impact on industry. Karamanlis said that it is difficult to keep a balance between a clean environment and a stable growth rate. However, Janez Jansa, the president of Slovenia, which holds the EU presidency, said that European countries have to act. «We are convinced that the costs of these measures will be much lower than if we don’t act,» he said.