Listen to Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the COP26 Summit
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to address you here today. Let me start by stating the obvious: we are running out of time and we need to act now.
In Greece, as in many other countries, we are already getting a glimpse of the dramatic effects of global warming. This summer, having experienced a record-breaking streak of days with temperatures over 40 degrees, we had to deal with forest fires of unprecedented intensity.
To tackle such challenges, we created a Climate Crisis Ministry. We emphasize the term “Climate Crisis” because we are already in need of urgently addressing the consequences of climate change. But we also need to act preemptively.
Greece, despite its small carbon footprint, can make a significant contribution in the green transition that goes beyond our ambitious European goals of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030.
Let me quickly highlight 6 initiatives, starting from shipping.
1. The Greek-owned commercial fleet is a maritime superpower, accounting for 20% of the global fleet. We are taking the lead in proposing solutions for the decarbonisation of maritime transport.
2. Moving to tourism, the climate crisis poses a big threat to Mediterranean tourist destinations. Our pioneering GR-eco strategy will eliminate more than 10 million tons of CO2, by gradually turning our islands into 100% green and sustainable autonomous destinations.
3. In renewables, beyond the traditional wind and solar, we aim to be leaders in offshore wind production, with an installed base of 2 GW by 2030. We also want to be innovators in pumped-storage hydroelectricity, taking advantage of the country’s unique geomorphology.
4. As far as phasing-out coal is concerned, we are transitioning to low-carbon electrification at a faster pace than many European countries. Greece will be lignite-free at the latest by 2028, while all old lignite units will be phased out by 2023.
5. As far as ecosystems are concerned, we are taking regulatory action to protect marine biodiversity. We aim to declare 10% of our seas as no-catch zones by 2030. And we are introducing a flagship project that we call “Untrodden Mountains” with the aim to protect our mountains’ natural habitat.
6. Finally, interconnections. Greece is steadily transforming itself into a regional hub for green energy. Our recent agreement with Egypt for a new electricity interconnection is a case in point. Greece is also the logical entry point for green hydrogen produced in the Middle East and in Northern Africa into the European market.
Last but not least, the cabinet will approve this week our new climate bill, which will set ambitious targets with regards to climate change.
One last remark: the natural gas price crisis should not derail the strategy of decarbonization. Instead, we should move faster and think out of the box, particularly when it comes to financing the green transition.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have reached a stage where there is simply no more room for petty politics. Our children and the generations to come will not forgive us if we fail to coordinate and address this existential threat for humanity. Starting today, I firmly believe that we can live up to the challenge.