Dr. Avgerinopoulou addresses the Greek Parliament concearning the opinion of the Environment Committee on the Climate Bill

Dr. Avgerinopoulou addresses the Greek Parliament concearning the opinion of the Environment Committee on the Climate Bill

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Minister, Deputy Minister,
Mr. Secretary General,

I have the honour to inform you that the opinion of the Environment Committee on the Climate Bill in its main points is as follows:


It is the common understanding of our Members that the stakes arising from the impending climate crisis are great – they concern the health and survival of all living organisms on our planet. The objective of keeping the average global temperature from rising above 1.5°C by 2050 does not seem to be achieved by current international, regional and national action. On the contrary, we are heading towards almost double the average global temperature increase. Following the release of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2022, which found that global net anthropogenic emissions have continued to increase across all major greenhouse gas groups and that harmful carbon emissions from 2010-2019 have never, ever, been higher, highest in human history, it is becoming clear that the legal and political response to the climate crisis so far is not sufficient and we must take more effective action immediately, or else the world, as the UN Secretary-General has warned, is on a “fast track” to disaster.

At the same time, the energy autonomy and security of Europe, and consequently of our country, is following recent geopolitical developments, at the centre of the EU’s new energy policy, as can be seen from the recent REPowerEU. In this light, it seems that with each passing day it becomes more and more imperative to accelerate the green and just energy transition. In this context, the text of Greece’s first climate law is a fact. It comes to strengthen the pre- existing relevant legislative framework and to accelerate Greece’s action against the climate crisis. The Ministry of Environment and Climate presents a law that responds to the demands of science and to the international and regional commitments of our country in terms of its contribution to mitigating the climate crisis, but also its adaptation to it and its armouring. We therefore give the text of the country’s proposed climate law a positive sign in principle. Besides, the Greek Climate Law does not fall short in terms of content, on the contrary, it refers to and covers the main points that the climate laws in the majority of EU Member States refer to.

I briefly mention the following points for improvement –
1) In its chapeau, i.e. in the introductory part of the Law, it would be good to make explicit reference to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Global Sustainability Goal 13.
2) With regard to the preparation of the National Adaptation Strategy to Climate Change (NASCC), which is now being prepared by the Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection, the participation of the Ministry of Environment and Energy should be upgraded, as the role of the Ministry of Environment and Energy is crucial in the protection of the natural environment and, in this case, its adaptation to climate change.
3) For the preparation and monitoring of the Regional Climate Change Plans (RCCPs), additional staff should be recruited in the Regions, specialized in climate crisis issues, to assist the Regions on a permanent basis. The relevant Directorates could be renamed as Directorates for Environment, Climate and Spatial Planning.
4) We welcome the adoption of the innovative tool of sectoral carbon budgets as a necessary tool for monitoring the progress of climate action and performance of businesses and the Greek state, as well as an indicator of sustainable financing.
5) We recall that in terms of the general policies and measures introduced by the bill, our Committee has already placed particular emphasis on the development of environmental and climate innovation, such as biomethane and green hydrogen and the substitution of fossil fuels by renewable and zero-emission fuels.
6) Regarding Article 10 and adaptation and shielding issues in general, we would like to see a greater emphasis on natural ecosystems and their shielding, but also their use as sinks with the development of corresponding projects and green infrastructure.
7) While, Particular reference deserves to be made to sub-paragraph i of para. 1 of Article 10, as it refers to the circular carbon economy, i.e. policies and measures to increase greenhouse gas absorption from natural ecosystems, such as our forests, or through their storage in geological formations or by reusing them. This passage refers directly to one of the most immediate solutions to global warming, since it aims to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is possible to absorb carbon dioxide either from specific emission sources or directly from the atmosphere itself.

We are in the critical decade for carbon capture, storage and reuse. If not now, then when? When is it too late? Scientists in Greece and abroad and Greek companies are already working on similar projects. Greece must work within the EU and take the lead in reviewing and updating the relevant national, European and international legislative framework. A generous funding of these technologies and businesses will also be needed. At the same time, I recommend the creation of an international or European Centre for the Coal Cycle Economy based in Greece.

Further, we welcome the Greek government’s commitment to coal decarbonisation by 2028, despite recent international developments, and we hope that we will be able to use the review clause for faster decarbonisation by 2025.  The regulations on electromobility are comprehensive and resolve many issues, while the obligation to acquire public electric vehicles could soon be extended across the country. And the electromobility of ships for coastal shipping are technologies that are slowly maturing.

As for buildings, it should be noted that climate change has been identified as an ‘urban issue’. The IPCC report stressed that: rethinking the way cities and other urban areas operate could make a significant contribution to mitigating the more severe impacts of climate change in the future. In this spirit, we welcome the provisions on buildings and, in general, the improvement of the way cities operate, and we look forward to the relevant legal framework being complemented by the legal framework for smart cities. It is also important that all citizens who wish to install photovoltaic panels on the roof, a truly long-awaited regulation brought about by the climate law, should be able to do so. As a reminder, the use of renewable energy sources has been identified by the UN Secretary-General as: “an essential, global public good”. The strengthening of the climate change dimension in environmental permitting is also substantial, as is the regulation on emission reductions from activities outside the European Emissions Trading Scheme. It should be noted that Greece could also play a substantial role and leadership on shipping and climate issues, and we need to launch the establishment of the Green Shipping Centre, a proposal that the Prime Minister himself, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has already submitted to the European Commission.

While the Gr-eco islands Strategic Initiative Framework is important for our country’s environmental and climate action, and responds to the needs of islandhood. It has attracted the interest of the international community and promotes Greece everywhere in the most beautiful way.
Other buildings at risk, such as those located in the coastal zone, due to coastal erosion, should perhaps be added to the insurance of buildings at risk from climate change, and the compulsory insurance of buildings in Greece against climate change should be extended. Climate financing is rightly one of the main subjects of the draft law and should also necessarily follow the European taxonomy. We  should also fund climate actions in third countries and strengthen our presence internationally, for example, by funding the organisation of an upcoming World Climate Conference in Greece.

We welcome the establishment of the climate institutions, namely, the National Observatory for Climate Change, the National Council for Adaptation to Climate Change, the Climate Dialogue Website, but also the Scientific Committee on Climate Change, which should consist  of more than eight members in order to give the opportunity to more disciplines directly related to the interdisciplinary nature of the climate change phenomenon to be represented. While the Annual Progress Report on Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change under
Article 28 should necessarily be submitted to the Parliament for information and debate, in particular to the Parliament’s Environment Committee.

In a subsequent development of this bill, and taking into account RepowerEU, Fit for 55, the new IPCC report and in general the relevant legislative and scientific developments, we propose that the Climate Law be supplemented with additional regulations for agriculture and livestock, methane, ecosystem protection, green shipping, protection of the marine environment from climate change, water management in relation to climate, climate education,for the development of the energy transmission network, etc.

Looking the acute problem of the climate crisis in the eye, it is very encouraging to see additional action on climate in our country as well. We expect the policies, regulations and market instruments provided for in the Climate Law to prove effective. If these are implemented widely and fairly, with the participation of society as a whole, we will be able to achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and perform the noblest task: to protect life on the planet.

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