The Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Yiannis Maniatis, on Thursday, January 23, presented the priorities of the Greek Presidency in the field of Environment before the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament, in Brussels.
Minister Maniatis at first thanked the Members of the European Parliament for supporting the Greek people during the crisis. He then went on to stress the significance attached by the Greek Presidency to the work of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety towards highlighting the crucial issue of climate change and environment protection.
Minister Maniatis reiterated that:
1. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t do what is necessary in order to achieve the global target of limiting the rise of planet temperature by 2°C, according to the UN’s last report for the gap emission.
2. Developing countries produce over 60% of the world emissions, while the EU produces only 11%.
3. The EU first included actions on climate change in its budget and expressed its commitment to allocate 20% of the budget for 2014-2020, for example investments amounting to € 180 billion for all sectoral policies aiming at preventing climate change.
4. According to a Parliament resolution, each year, 3% of the global GDP is lost due to diversity loss. This costs the EU € 450 billion every year.
5. 1.5 billion people don’t have electricity and 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitary facilities in everyday living.
The Greek Minister also noted the chief goal of coming to an agreement on three legislative proposals relating to:
1. waste transport
2. the proposal for monitoring shipping emissions
3. alien invasive species
Minister Maniatis underlined the important priority of the promotion and thorough consideration of issues arising from the “Energy-Climate in the framework of 2030" package, which entails extremely important decisions on the future of the European Union in the fields of energy and climate change. This is expected to be discussed in the European Council in late March 2014.
Moreover, he presented the basic goals of the package, aiming at ensuring:
1. the predictability and certainty for Member States and investors until 2030
2. the adoption of a common (European) position on the commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in the light of a global agreement expected to be reached in Paris in 2015 by United Nations,
3. the security of energy supply through the development of energy saving and infrastructure networks, and
4. the development of low-carbon technologies, which will bring new jobs and promote research and innovation.
Mr Maniatis noted that it is in the peoples’ interest to build an economy that secures existing jobs and creates new, while being less dependent on energy imports and more based on domestic production of clean energy. He also declared that the ambitious target of reducing emissions by 40% for 2030 (compared to 1990) is a cost-effective goal for Europe to reduce carbon, while he pointed out that Europe should maintain its orientation towards the promotion of renewable sources of energy and energy saving.
The Greek Minister pledged that the Presidency will promote and facilitate discussions in the Council on this issue and on the legislative proposal for structural changes to the trading system.
He also stated that the Greek Presidency will give further prominence to:
•the regulation Proposal on shipping emissions.
•the Ratification of the Doha amendment (2nd period of the Kyoto Protocol)
•the package of proposals on air quality
Moreover, Mr Maniatis noted an issue of grave environmental concern, namely that of plastic bags, as the latter accumulate in the environment especially as marine waste.
Finally, he referred to the priority of the Presidency for the maturation of EU positions on climate change, in view of the intensification of international negotiations that will be held in Bonn in June, for the COP-20 in Lima at the end of 2014, in order for a global agreement to be prepared properly in the wider context of the United Nations - in Paris in 2015.
Concluding, Minister Maniatis referred to the process that will take place on May 14-15, during the Informal Environment Council, in which 'Blue Growth' will be the main subject on the agenda and declared that Blue Economy in EU will create new jobs for over 5 million people and will bring 500 billion euro to the European economy. The target is, until 2010, to create 7 million new jobs and bring € 600 billion in the economy.
He also announced that the year 2014 has been declared a “Mediterranean Year”, in cooperation with the next Italian presidency has. In this context, in May, an international Ministerial Conference on Environment and Climate Change in the Mediterranean will be held in the context of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Finally, he expressed his belief that during the Greek Presidency the Council, in close cooperation with the European Parliament, will be able to promote all major issues related to the environment and climate change.