Mitsotakis cites the danger of not dealing with the fallout from climate change | greece, politics


ATHENS – He blamed climate change for the record summer fires caused by heat waves and now Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said it is Mediterranean countries that must show how to deal with a phenomenon denied by skeptics .

Turkey, Cyprus and Spain were also overrun with wildfires, with flooding in Turkey and Germany after forests and hills lost the ability to slow water down due to the devastation left behind.

“I don’t want to talk about climate change anymore. I want to talk about the climate crisis, it’s already there, ”Mitsotakis told Reuters in an interview. “And to deal with it, we need horizontal policies that essentially permeate all aspects of our economic and social life”, without specifying any.

A United Nations climate panel has warned that deadly heat waves, huge hurricanes and other extreme weather events will only get worse, but despite widespread evidence there are groups and these say that this is not true.

Mitsotakis had even before the fires tried to deal with the prospect of climate change bringing bad weather that could affect the country’s economy and infrastructure, claiming there would be a ban on coal-fired power plants by 2028. and creating a ministry to deal with climate. caused seizures.

He used a meeting of leaders from nine countries at the EUMED9 summit in Athens to lead a statement warning of the consequences of not addressing climate change as the European Union has been slow to deal with it.

The UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow which begins on October 31 aims to accelerate plans to slow climate change, but previous similar meetings have led to tentative plans that have not worked.

In the worst-case scenario, the climate crisis would represent the “destruction of human civilization as we know it,” Mitsotakis told Reuters, trying to explain the extent of ignoring the dangers.

“We have to be very, very, very clear. This is exactly what is at stake. If worst case scenarios materialize, this planet will no longer be hospitable to mankind by the end of this century.

“Here in the Mediterranean, we have nearly 6,000 years of civilization behind us, but it is the duty of our generation to ensure that future generations continue to live, prosper and prosper,” he said. declared.

The World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, said the number of disasters caused by climate change has jumped 500 percent over the past half century, killing more than two million people and costing 3.64 trillions of dollars in losses.

The cost of the crisis was “unimaginable” globally and even in terms of national economies, Mitsotakis said, but Greece has had to pump up coal-fired power plants this summer to cope with power shortages after the fires .

Floods in Greece cost half a billion euros in 2020 and he said the total will increase if you count damage to crops and agriculture, such as loss of honey and other property. on the island of Euboea ravaged by fire this summer.

Greece has reduced its greenhouse gases by 11 million tonnes since late 2019 by moving away from coal, Mitsotakis said. Greek authorities were also moving “at high speed” to place flood barriers in forests destroyed by the fires this summer, he said.

His New Democracy government had been criticized for its responses to the fires, especially from the main opposition SYRIZA, which was in power when the forest fires of July 23, 2018 killed 102 people.

Leftists have been accused of having no real disaster response plan and of increasing the death toll by failing to respond quickly as wildfires spread and no warning program to emergency was in place for cell phones.

Mitsotakis admitted there had been gaps in his government’s handling of the fires, as some residents complained that there were no planes dumped in water to deal with some of the bigger fires. .

He apologized for any breach. “In the face of fires of this intensity, it is very clear that we have to do things differently,” he said. “So we have to learn from our mistakes,” he also said.

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