Published in Euractiv

The European Parliament will decide Wednesday (15 February) on the future of the emissions Trading System (ETS). But in this vote, it’s not just EU’s leadership role in global climate policy at stake, writes Nikos Mantzaris.

Since the ETS is the most mature and sophisticated carbon pricing system globally, Wednesday’s vote will send signals worldwide on how seriously the EU intends to fight climate change.

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Published in Guardian Letters

In its response to your report (Greece set to win €1.75bn from EU climate scheme to build two coal plants,, 3 November) about Greece’s desperate plea to gain free emission allowances, the Greek Public Power Corporation (GPPC) avoids the main issue: its two new lignite plants won’t be economically viable unless they are allowed to emit CO2 without paying, a fact that even GPPC’s CEO admits.

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The Greek Public Power Corporation knows perfectly well that its two new lignite units under development, won’t be economically viable unless they are allowed to emit CO2 without paying. That’s why GPPC is claiming in every possible forum that Greece should get a pertinent exemption from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) rules*. In its effort to conceal the real reason behind its desperate plea, which is the perpetual continuation of the lignite-based electricity model as recently described by Guardian, GPPC is employing a series of arguments, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It comes a moment though that all myths get busted. 

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Seven years of crisis and austerity in Europe are placing great strain on the European project. In Europe’s nature, life goes on: Greece hosts a unique ecological treasury, which is threatened by increasing pressures for rapid but unsustainable growth and environmental deregulation. Greece’s debt can hardly be deemed sustainable and is crippling for the prospects of the country’s economy, environment and social well-being. This condition also prolongs the economic uncertainty of the entire euro-area. Debt relief seems inevitable. A green debt relief agreement, under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, can offer a long lasting solution to this European crisis.

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It is with deep sadness but also valuable memories, that we bid farewell to Luc Hoffmann, ‘father’ of WWF Greece and co-founder of WWF International.

His love for life on Earth brought Luc to the field of ecology many years ago, with numerous publications as an internationally acknowledged zoologist-ornithologist and a legendary track record of conservation efforts throughout the world. His endless love and concern about the future of the planet is also reflected in the number of organisations and protected areas that are very much his own creations – the international Ramsar Convention for the conservation of wetlands, the Tour du Valat wetlands research centre, the MAVA Foundation that has supported conservation efforts throughout the world, Doñana in Spain, Banc d’ Arguin in Mauritania and of course Prespa, of which he is an honorary citizen since 2003.

A great friend of our country, Luc fell in love with Greek nature from the 1950’s. He tirelessly studied the wetlands of Greece and founded many organisations such as WWF Greece, and the Society for the Protection of Prespa where he was President for many years. In 1999, Luc Hoffmann was also awarded the honour of the Order of the Phoenix by the President of the Hellenic Republic.

Luc Hoffmann will always be with us, through our thriving nature that he so loved and fought for but also though his writings such as the one below, that overflow with love for the beauties of our planet:

‘Greece is the country of diversity….Zeus must have hit this area with his hammer, splashing thousand islands in the sea and tearing the mainland into pieces so that the country’s coastline became as long as the one of the whole continent of Africa. This physical multiplicity is increased by a wide gradient of climates, ranging from almost subtropical to truly alpine conditions, as well as by a variety of mountains, hills, and plains, many of which scattered with wetlands. No wonder these conditions have produced an exceptionally rich living nature, in fact the highest biodiversity known in Europe. They are also at the origin of beautiful and deeply moving natural and man-made landscapes. Altogether, these form the natural heritage of Greece.’

There is an alternative route for the economy of Western Macedonia, which for decades is being severely undermined to supply electricity to the entire country. This is what two new reports, that WWF Greece made public today, show.

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Joint statement of environmental NGOs on the refugee crisis in Greece.

The undersigned environmental organisations care for the commons. In our work for the protection of the environment, humanity always features at the centre. In the midst of the humanitarian crisis happening now in Greece, we cannot be passive observers of the dramatic situation of tens of thousands of uprooted women, men and children who are stranded and desperate all around our country.

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Illegal wildlife trade is a serious issue that affects many animal and plant species all over the world. However, it is also a highly profitable business that is spreading worldwide. Every year the aggregate number of victims surpasses 10 million wildlife animals and plants, while the turnover of illegal activity is estimated at about 22 billion dollars, making wildlife trade the fourth most lucrative illegal trade globally.

Guy Shorrock/RSPB

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Irrevocably negative is the European Commission's response to the request submitted by the Greek Government in May 2015 to reopen the destroyed by fire lignite unit "Ptolemaida III." It is the oldest and one of the most polluting lignite units for which the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy had requested formally to extend its operation beyond the expiration of its environmental permit through a Limited Lifetime Derogation (Article 33 of the Industrial Emissions Directive).

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In a letter addressed to the representatives of the creditor institutions in Greece Delia Velculescu (IMF), Declan Costello (EC) and Rasmus Rüffer (ECB), the environmental organisation WWF Greece sheds light on the environmental rollback, intransparency and bad law-making, which plague the country and have worsened during the crisis.

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