ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE

We are working towards a zero-emissions economy which will be fully powered from renewable energy sources 

Climate Change

Climate change affects what we most value and love. It changes the seasons, affects our diet and health, makes life more difficult in cities, increases the dangers to nature, , endangers our monuments, history and the future of next generations.

We know what causes climate change. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, such as electricity production from fossil fuels, livestock farming and deforestation.

As a result of the economic crisis, Greece’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased in recent years. Greece emits approximately the equivalent of 100 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Despite the decrease, it continues to not contribute as much as it should in the international fight against climate change, since it emits approximately 50% more per unit GDP compared to the EU average. 

Approximately 70% of Greece’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector, 60% of which originate from electricity production, which is in turn still based on lignite, the most polluting fuel on the planet. As a result, lignite despite its recent decline, still contributes more than 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire country.

Greek lignite

Up until 2010, Greece was the 7th largest lignite mining country in the world with 22 lignite units in Western Macedonia and the Peloponnese. Currently, 14 units are still operating. Greek lignite deposits are by far the lowest quality in the EU, thus leading to high costs for their exploitation. 

In addition to contributing to the greenhouse phenomenon responsible for climate change, lignite combustion has devastating effects on human health and the natural environment, whereas the operation of lignite power plants demands huge amounts of water. At the same time, the constant need for mine expansion has led to the desolation of many villages and the displacement of thousands of residents from their homes.

Dealing with the problem

At WWF Greece we are promoting well-documented, renewables-based solutions for the country's detoxification from lignite. In 2013, we showed that the construction of new lignite units is not economically viable and two years later we presented alternative solutions to the construction of the new, expensive “Ptolemaida V” lignite unit, which are based on the sun, air and water.

Renewable energy

Greece can triple the share of renewables in the electricity mix over the next 20 years. WWF Greece showed in 2017 that this is not only technically feasible but also economically beneficial, when combined with a lignite phase out.

We are walking the talk. Since 2014, we have been working in the Dodecanese to make Tilos the first energy self-sufficient island to cover almost all its needs for electricity with renewables. The smart microgrid will be powered by energy coming from the sun and the wind, which will in turn be stored in batteries for cloudy and windless weather. Such hybrid systems can be a solution for many Aegean islands. Already three more islands are walking in the footsteps of Tilos, while 12 others are taking part in the "smart islands" initiative.

We work together

We do not only work with governments. In 2015 we joined our voice with 48,000 citizens from all over the world to say a thundering NO to the plans for the construction of the new lignite unit Ptolemaida V. We did not stay on our screens and our sofas, and a few weeks later we all danced together on the most colorful path to climate change in Greece.

In December 2015, in Paris, we experienced a historic moment. 196 countries including the EU agreed to limit global warming below 1.5 ° C. The road for fossil fuels became even harder after that!

A step in the right direction

The retirement of lignite plants does not need to create new wounds in Western Macedonia and Megalopoli. Since 2015 we have been trying to defend local communities, workers in the lignite industry and their families. We talked to MEPs, MPs and the Greek government, we proposed sustainable economic activities for the development of lignite regions, and we, together with the local communities and the municipal authorities, advocated for the establishment of a National Just Transition Fund which will finance the shift of the local economies to the post-lignite era. Ultimately, in 2018 such a fund was created in Greece, the first of its kind in Europe!


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