Minister sets climate pact goals

Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said yesterday that Greece would send a substantial delegation to Copenhagen next week to participate in a United Nations conference on climate change and press for a «legally binding global treaty with clear decisions which includes all the goals we have set out.» Birbili detailed these goals during a speech before a joint session of Parliament’s trade and environmental protection committees. She said that Greece would push for the enforcement of compulsory measures to reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that cause global warming by between 20 and 30 percent by the year 2020 and by 80 to 95 percent up to 2050. Birbili said that Greece would also promote the operation of a system to monitor the enforcement of these measures. The minister stressed the importance of protecting Greece’s forestland, dwindling due to frequent fires and subsequent construction, as a countermeasure for curbing toxic CO2 emissions. Deforestation in developing countries is seriously hampering efforts to curb climate change, Birbili added, noting that Greece would press the European Commission to release more funding to help developing economies curb their emissions. Asked to predict the outcome of the conference in Copenhagen, Birbili refused to comment but described the withdrawal of Stavros Dimas, who has been European environment commissioner for the past five years, as a «significant loss.» She added that her ministry was planning to spearhead a joint initiative for curbing climate change in the region with other Mediterranean countries immediately after the Copenhagen conference. Questioned about her ministry’s stance on energy, Birbili reiterated that nuclear power «has no place in the country’s energy mix,» noting that the aim was to concentrate on harnessing Greece’s massive untapped potential in renewable energy sources, chiefly wind and solar energy, and to confine the use of polluting coal to power stations.

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