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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-06-13

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 'Titanic' battle against climate change stressed by PM Karamanlis

  • [01] 'Titanic' battle against climate change stressed by PM Karamanlis

    The need to enlist world's young people in "the titanic battle to save the planet" was the central message in a speech given by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Athens on Wednesday. He was speaking during an event on "Climate Change: Active Citizens for the Future of the Planet," organised in central Athens by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, an event also addressed by former US vice-president and latter-day environmental icon Al Gore.

    "Climate change is the most important challenge that our generation has to face. We can no longer continue to ignore or misinterpret what is already happening to the environment," Karamanlis underlined.

    In his speech, during which the Greek prime minister announced that copies of Gore's Oscar-winning documentary and book, "An Inconvenient Truth", would be supplied to all primary and secondary schools in the country as part of a national programme for the environment, Karamanlis stressed that "we must transcend ourselves and history, making our allies in the titanic battle to save the planet all the young people of all the world and Greece".

    The Greek premier also stressed that environmental policy was a central choice of the government, in the context of revising the National Programme for the reduction of greenhouse gases so as to meet European Union targets and avert the dire predictions of scientists.

    "Our policy is guided by the fact that we no longer have the luxury - not to say the folly - to deal with growth and the environment as two different, unrelated fields," he said.

    Karamanlis cited a European Council report for 2006 that found Greece to be fully consistent with its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, while noting that the government would not become complacent but further intensify its efforts - not just as a consequence of Kyoto and EU policies but "because we consider it a moral obligation".

    He also outlined the measures Greece intends to take to achieve this goal, such as the first National Plan for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Allocation for 2005-2007 and the even stricter 2008-2012 programme that called for 8.9 percent emissions cuts by 150 Greek industrial companies, or a special spatial planning law for renewable energy sources, which aims to help raise the production of alternative 'green' energy production from 11% at present to 20% in 2010 and 30% in 2020.

    The prime minister went on to list environmental progress made by Greece in other areas, such as recycling that had increased from 6% of all waste to 20% in three years, or the opening of the new sludge-drying plant at the Psyttalia sewage works.

    He said the government was determined to make use of the most up-to-date technological developments in environmental policy in order to protect biodiversity, streamline the use and allocation of natural resources - especially common resources like forests, water and fisheries - while promoting policies for recycling, environmentally-friendly agriculture, industry and tertiary enterprise, and achieving better quality of life in cities, towns and villages.

    The Greek premier underlined that worldwide coordination was a condition of success in goals to protect the environment, as was the so-called "prisoner's dilemma" or the need to ensure that everyone contributed to the common effort.

    He also expressed confidence that the "glass is still half-full" and that saving the planet only required the necessary political will.

    "Let us awaken consciences. The new generation is our ally. The young people that can exert pressure and now call on us to take action," he said.

    Karamanlis referred to the stance of the developed countries that emitted the most greenhouse gases but underlined that the joint effort of the rest of the world would be a first step to sensitising countries like the United States, China and India.

    "By doing our duty we force the others to do theirs," he said.


    Speaking after Karamanlis, Gore stressed that the planet was in "a state of emergency" and warned that there were no more than 10 years to save the world, after which the chance would be lost.

    According to the former US vice-president, meanwhile, preventing the factors responsible for the current situation required only political will.

    He stressed that future generations would condemn the present generation as unethical for failing to take the action that could reverse the situation when it was able to do so, underlining that the looming environmental changes were the greatest and the worst in the history of the world.

    Listing alarming statistics on population, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and melting polar ice in tandem with possible consequences, such as a new ice age, he pointed to the damage left in its wake by Hurricane Katrina and stressed that "this is just the start".

    According to Gore, the causes that will lead to destruction were booming population, technological advances and also "a short-term view of problems", one imposed by the "tyranny" of market forces.

    Finally, he thanked Karamanlis warmly and described him as a leader with political will and complete awareness of the problems, who is playing an important role in efforts to deal with it. He also thanked the Greek premier for his announcement that he would make Gore's DVD and book available in Greek schools, noting that the proceeds are all donated to a US non-profit foundation for the protection of the environment.

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