Article of Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis in Sunday’s ‘Avriani’.
Greece plays a leading role in climate change
The final outcome of the Copenhagen Conference’s proceedings unfortunately confirmed pessimistic projections. Negotiations were not successful up until the last minute, they did not lead to the legal binding agreement that was necessary to combat climate change.
Without ignoring the difficulties, which were well known from the beginning, there had always been hopes that did not materialise, as the preparatory meetings did not go well.This was due to the fact that many sides have still not accepted the need to reach a legally binding agreement comprising specific targets.
The Copenhagen Conference was the most important Conference on an international level.It is the continuation of the 1997 Kyoto Conference, where the first global agreement on combating climate change was signed.
Despite the fact that the decisions fall short of our expectations, I think that Copenhagen is and should be the only way to combat climate change. There are many reasons underlying the loose text that came out of Copenhagen.The real problem is climate change, developed countries cutting greenhouse gas emissions, putting an end to deforestation, limiting emissions from international air transport and shipping.But despite everyone’s agreement on what the real problems are, the problems that require immediate and radical solutions before it is too late, the Conference turned to other matters.Great emphasis was laid during the political discussion on the issue of funding and, hence, media interest also shifted towards that issue.I do not ignore its importance.Funding is definitely significant but it is not enough and, as a result, many issues that are substantially linked with climate change have been left behind.
Furthermore, it was proven in the course of proceedings that most sides were not ready to make binding decisions. The United States – despite their intentions to proceed with reforming their legal framework in order to be able to commit – did not finalise the necessary legislative provisions, whilst the EU had to address pending funding matters. A lot of other countries followed a wait-and-see approach, instead of committing themselves. Unfortunately, these were the conditions that led to an agreement of low expectations.
Greece was in favour of substantial commitments on greenhouse gas emissions cuts in Europe from the outset. It is ready and determined to be among the countries that will play a leading role in actions to address climate change and will play a substantial part in these issuesnot just at the level of intentions or political choices.What we should bear in mind is that this stance is a substantial need for our country.Our country should be on the world map among the countries distinguished for promoting green development as a necessary and important opportunity for the future.It is clear that we are facing an even more complex challenge.And the answers must come from addressing this phenomenon comprehensively, taking into account every parameter and using the human and the natural environment as the top criterion.Irrespective of the agreement, interventions and synergies are now needed on a bilateral level for the implementation of the results of the Copenhagen Conference.
And here, we must make the most of our comparative advantages.These advantages combine our new productive relationship with the environment, a creative and innovative relationship between the economy and knowledge, a democratic relationship between the citizens and technology, a self-critical and educational relationship with our history and tradition, as well as a human measure in material infrastructure and consumption.Greece has a very important role to play on these matters.
The Greek Foreign Ministry has taken up initiatives in order to develop bilateral and multilateral relations with the countries of the broader region of the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Black Sea, the design and implementation of a regional plan as part of the promotion and implementation of a development cooperation policy.In the coming months, I will tour the capitals of the countries of the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean with a view to promoting green development and cooperation on tackling climate change.The contacts and discussions I had in Copenhagen with the Environment Ministers of these countries convinced me that cooperation with Mediterranean regions up to Africa is possible and it is Greece’s answer to the Greek initiative on climate and development.
Greece is a crossroads between Europe and Asia, located at the point where the Caspian Sea meets the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.It is our duty to contribute to the effort generally aimed at a comprehensive socio-economic development, creating and safeguarding the conditions of prosperity in the region and, more particularly, in the implementation of the model of green development and the promotion of actions related with mitigating and adjusting climate change.
Our policy, our bet is to succeed in this field as well, the particularly vital field of humanity;both at the level of central choices and policies we promote within the framework of the European Union and around the world, but also at the level of our country’s initiatives in our broader region.