EC backs Birbili’s climate goals

BRUSSELS – Europe’s Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard has told Kathimerini English Edition that she fully backs Greece to keep to its environmental targets despite the impact of the economic crisis and the need for the country to seek foreign investment in a range of projects. Environment Minister Tina Birbili recently expressed concerns about the environmental impact of a project agreed upon with two Qatari firms to transform the western port of Astakos into an energy hub. The deal collapsed last week for other reasons but Birbili’s reservations raised the question of whether foreign investment schemes will match PASOK’s ambition of improving Greece’s green credentials, particularly in the case of the deals signed with China, which has a poor environmental record. But Hedegaard is confident that Greece’s policy on climate change will not be compromised. «I understand that the Greek situation is extremely difficult,» she said. «But I was encouraged some two weeks ago, when I had a meeting with Environment Minister Tina Birbili, and I got the very clear impression that the Greek government wants to keep addressing energy efficiency and better energy infrastructure.» Greece, like all European Union countries, has pledged that by 2020 it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent, that 20 percent of its energy consumption will come from renewable resources and that primary energy use will be reduced by 20 percent. Hedegaard said she is convinced that Greece will stick to these goals despite the economic crisis. Hedegaard also encouraged the government to invest in green, or environmentally friendly, growth and not be put off by what it might cost. «Green growth does not come for free,» she said. «But if you take the whole spectrum into account, you will see it is an investment in better health, a better environment and cleaner waters.» The government believes that more than 250,000 jobs can be created through building up the green economy.

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