Bill on Kyoto Treaty

Eight days before the expiry of the European Union deadline for member states to ratify the Kyoto Treaty on gas emission control, Greece said yesterday that it would do so next week. Following a Cabinet meeting which discussed the matter, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou told journalists the government would table a draft bill on the Kyoto Treaty in Parliament, thus becoming the last EU country to do so. Brussels has given member states until the end of May to ratify the 1997 treaty. At the time, the EU had promised to reduce emissions of so-called greenhouse gases – mainly carbon dioxide – suspected of increasing global temperatures by 8 percent (compared to 1990 levels) between 2008 and 2012. Greece had managed to secure special treatment, whereby instead of reducing its gas emissions it would keep them from increasing more than 25 percent (compared to 1990 levels) by 2010. Papandreou said Athens would try to limit the increase in greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent. But according to the estimates she presented yesterday, it appears that emissions will instead increase by 35.8 percent. That is due to the fact that Greece has not yet implemented an action plan on climate change it drew up in 1995 or the new provisions added in 1998 and 2001. As a result, even though Greece had promised – through its ratification of a United Nations convention on climate change in 1994 – to have increased its gas emissions by no more than 15 percent by 2000 (with a three percent margin of error) the actual increase was 23 percent. According to sources, yesterday’s Cabinet meeting agreed to take new measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions in transport, households, industry, farming, and rubbish disposal, expected to cost some $7.7 billion. Among the measures believed to have been approved was a price policy intended to promote the use of environmentally friendly fuels, and vehicles whose engines pollute the environment less than conventional engines do. Meanwhile, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos yesterday told a conference on renewable energy sources that the government would be spending some 513.5 million euros on funding investment in such forms of energy production. He also announced an agreement with Papandreou’s ministry to create wind parks in Attica.