Posted on 04 December 2023
In his brief speech at the 28th Council of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis presented an image of Greece as a climate leader.
He referred to the positive aspects of the country's performance in accelerating the growth of renewable energy, and also emphasized Greece as one of the countries hardest hit by climate disasters. The announcement of Poros as another island that will join "GR-eco Islands" green transition programme is indeed welcome, albeit of lesser significance in the context of a climate COP.
What the Greek Prime Minister failed to mention is that his government continues at present to aggressively promote new oil and gas exploration and drilling in many parts of the country (onshore and offshore). At the same time, Greece’s electricity mix is heavily dependent on fossil gas (including new power plants), while new plans for extensive new LNG storage and transport are moving forward.
In the rooms of every climate COP, the elephant is always fossil fuels. Greece, like many other countries, promotes a two-faced climate and energy policy: on the one hand greening some islands and promoting renewable energy, while on the other pushing for new oil and gas.
Ironically, just two days before the start of COP28, exploratory drilling for oil and gas was licensed in Ioannina, Northern Greece. At the same time, the government is planing for approvals of exploratory drilling in the seas of Crete and the Ionian. All this, regardless of the fact that just two weeks ago, the International Energy Agency reiterated its statement that there is no room for new oil and gas.
As Demetres Karavellas, WWF CEO stated, “Although Greece has improved its climate and energy performance in a number of key areas over the last few years, a green energy transition and fossil fuels simply do not fit under the same narrative. We need bold leadership that will listen to science and leave fossil fuels in the ground’
Ahead of the COP28, WWF Greece sent a letter to the Greek Prime Minister, proposing that he undertake a bold initiative, calling on leaders of Eastern Mediterranean countries to agree on a moratorium on all new oil and gas exploration and extraction projects. COP28 would have been a unique opportunity to announce such an initiative and make Greece a real frontrunner in the race for climate innovation and resilience.