Highlighting the most urgent actions and reforms for the protection of the environment and the development of a living economy that will safely lead Greece out of the economic crisis, WWF Greece addressed PM Alexis Tsipras, Minister of Economy George Stathakis, Minister for Productive Reconstruction & Environment Panayiotis Lafazanis and Alternate Minister Yiannis Tsironis. In the statement, WWF identifies a series of priority actions in the areas of environmental law, governance & living economy, and urgent measures for the conservation of significant protected areas and the development of clean energy.
The new government of Greece is called by WWF to urgently halt the unprecedented rollback on environmental policies and legislation that unfolded in previous years, in order to avoid entitlement to rights stemming from specific new laws that seriously undermine environmental protection and legal certainty. Recent examples of legal provisions that need to be abolished are the anti-forest law 4315/2014 that was voted by the Hellenic Parliament in December 2014, legislation undermining the conservation status of protected areas, acts for the sanctioning of illegal buildings on the coastline, and a ministerial decision doubling the limits of allowable pollutant concentrations in the heavily polluted Asopos river.
In the crucial domain of sustainable economic policies and good governance, WWF Greece calls for the establishment of a robust independent authority for environmental inspections, under parliamentary supervision, which will be granted the power to impose sanctions and effectively combat environmental crime. WWF also focuses on the importance of incentives for the development of the social economy sector and the reorientation of the Investment Law towards the support of living economy business plans, under strict sustainability and innovation criteria. The need for an increase in the Green Fund’s ceiling for allowable annual spending of just 2.5% of its total revenues is also stressed, for the implementation of the Fund’s legal commitment to allocate the revenues from illegal buildings to nature conservation and urban environment improvements.
The front of protecting Greece’s natural treasury has become very demanding since the wake of the crisis, due to pressures for all types of developments regardless of their impact, even within legally protected areas. Flagship cases raised by WWF Greece are the sea turtle nesting habitat in Kyparissia, the Prespa Park, the diversion schemes of the rivers Aoos and Acheloos, and Kitros (Korinos) lagoons.
Highlighting the appeal for cancellation of the planned construction of a new 660MW lignite power plant Ptolemaida V by the Public Power Corporation (PPC), WWF also points out as scandalous the single production and operation permit covering horizontally many of the PPC’s fossil fuelled power stations: a favourable status that allows the operation of stations lacking environmental permits. The shift towards a clean energy economy is one of the major challenges for the new government, given its pre-election commitments for “economic transformation with social and ecological criteria”, hence the formulation of a 2030 national energy plan leading to the gradual independence from fossil fuels is seen as an imperative.
Read more: WWF Greece (in Greek)