OPINION

Polluters must pay the price

Greek environmental experts have proposed a Kyoto Protocol-type solution to deal with the problems dogging the environment of the Attica basin. The rationale behind the plan outlined by 64 scientists is simple: pollution from industrial activity in the region costs about 211 million euros in environmental cleanup and public health problems annually. Polluters do not pay for this, instead spreading the costs to everyone else. In other words, industrial production has winners and losers. Industrial activity does not necessarily mean a polluted environment. We now have the technological means in our possession to ensure low-pollution alternatives. According to the study, an investment in the range of 56 to 58 million euros could mitigate smog levels in the Attica environment. That would clear up the skies of Athens and cut down the cost of pollution. Moreover, those who are actually responsible for the environmental degradation will cover at least part of the price tag. The cost of pollution can be passed to the polluters. This is not only a question of justice. It is also a functional issue. The goods manufactured by heavy polluting industries tend to be low-cost products. This means that there is higher demand for these products and a bigger incentive for their production, hence more pollution. The industrial sector is vital to Greek society, but industries must cover the entire cost of production.