Greece to pass first climate law
Annual Pollution budget and specific obligations per ministry. More ambitious goals for CO2 reduction, RES and energy efficiency in 2030, 2040, and 2050
With a law that will define specific obligation for ministries and public bodies but also the participation of citizens and the scientific community in the formulation of actions for environmental protection, the government is seeking to tackle climate change.
The law is along the lines of standards of other European countries in the drafting of the climate law, raising even higher the targets for the reduction of the emissions of the greenhouse gaseous pollutants, in relation to the current National Plan for Energy and Climate (ESEK). The new revised limits are now mandatory and are set for 2030, 2040, and 2050. In 30 years from today, the goal is zero greenhouse gas emissions.
The institutional framework will be ready in July, while the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs, the Special Standing Committee on Environmental Protection and the Special Standing Committee on European Affairs will hold a joint sitting in Parliament on Tuesday 18 May.
A request to the Speaker of Parliament was preceded by the Minister of Environment and Energy Costas Skrekas after consultation with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The initiative for the enactment of a climate law was started by the president of the KINAL party, Fofi Gennimata, who sent a relevant letter to Mitsotakis to discuss the proposal of the opposition party in the committees of the Parliament. A proposal which was accepted by the Prime Minister.
Climate law brings major upheavals in the lives of citizens, in the activities of businesses as well as primarily in the obligations undertaken by ministries and other public bodies to achieve the goals set by the new framework for reducing the carbon footprint.
New ambitious goals
According to information from newspaper “Ta Nea”, the government is moving on the basis of the new Commission proposals, according to which it is reviewing the goal of reducing the emissions of gaseous pollutants. Specifically, on 21 April, an interim agreement was reached between the Member States to reduce pollutants by 55%, by 2030, compared to 1990. The previous target was 40%. It is noted that the EU is moving in the direction of passing a climate law.
Thus, according to sources, the new goals set by the government for Greece will provide:
- Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 55%, by 2030, compared to 42% set by the current ESEK. The comparison is based on the levels of 1990. This means in absolute terms that from the emissions of 103 megatons of carbon dioxide it has to fall to 47 megatons. The ESEK set a target of 60 megatons.
- The share of RES in domestic energy consumption is to rise by 2030 to 50% from 35% which was the goal of ESEK.
- The participation of RES in electricity generation is to increase by 2030 to 70% from 60% provided by ESEK.
- 80,000 buildings will be upgraded every year in terms of energy efficiency by 2030, from 60,000 according to the ESEK.
- Corresponding targets, clearly higher, will be set for 2040 as well.
- Climate neutrality for 2050, ie in 30 years to zero emissions of gaseous pollutants.
According to information from ot.gr, the new goals of the climate law signal the mobilization of additional investments to address climate change at the end of the decade amounting to 20 billion euros. ESEK estimated the investments in the sectors of the Greek economy at 44 billion euros based on the current limits, by 2030.
The new climate law, according to sources quoted by “Ta Nea”, will institutionalize the obligation of annual pollution budgets for the country as a whole, as well as per sector, for each ministry. There will also be binding emissions targets for 2030, 2040, and 2050. If a ministry does not meet annual pollution budgets, it will have to cut spending from other sectors to meet them. Each ministry should, with appropriate laws or ministerial decisions, specify the framework of the climate law per sector of the daily life of the citizens and per sector of economic activity.
These political options, according to information, can range from providing incentives for environmental protection and reducing energy consumption to possibly, if and when necessary, the imposition of “green” taxes. On the other hand, KINAL party has also proposed the introduction of low VAT rates for “green” products, or “clean” energy services, “green” contracts for public procurement, incentives for energy efficiency and measures to address energy poverty.
With the new institutional framework, Greece, in essence, is trying to institutionally shield its climate actions. At the same time, according to sources, instruments and structures will be established that will design such and monitor their evolution, and at the same time there will be the obligation of accountability.
The climate law proposes, based on the proposal made by KINAL, the establishment of an independent Climate Council. It will be staffed by experts and distinguished scientists, who will monitor the progress of the goals and will suggest measures to the government.
The establishment of Climate Assemblies and the establishment of Dialogue Committees will also be sought, where citizens, scientists, social, and business bodies can participate in the formulation of proposals for climate action.
It is worth noting that after the enactment of the Climate Law, will be followed by the revision of the ESEK.
At Member State level, France, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland have so far passed national climate laws, while several other countries are preparing such.
Outside the European Union, the United Kingdom (UK) and Norway also have climate laws, with the UK being the first to implement climate law since 2008, as the huge cost of inaction has been pointed out by studies such as the N. Stern report in 2007.