Interview of Responsible for Energy and Natural Resources Issues for the New Democracy party.
Considering the country’s unpleasant financial situation, is it really possible to essentially implement green development that is so widely spoken of?
The State must demystify the concept of green development which the current administration has introduced in an attempt to win over votes. If the “green development”, announced by the Prime Minister, is the easy, rapid raising of funds, then such green development will not exist. If green development is a turn towards a proliferation of government officials with investor relations to secure a photovoltaic panel installation and exploitation permit, then there will be no green development.
New Democracy has chosen a different option. Not an option based on circumstances. Not something that is “in fashion” now. We adopt the logic of sustainability, which is the official choice of Europe. The so-called sustainable development. And it is sustainable because it is based on three pillars: Competitiveness, Balance with the Natural Environment and Balance with the Social Environment. Environmental policy without Competitiveness is an extreme obsession and a return to the State. But also Competitiveness without respect to the Environment is a plunder of natural resources.
The concept of Sustainability is a modern, socially liberal approach that “marries” competitiveness and respect to the environment. On the other hand, we ought to stress that the Environment for us is not an “obstacle” to Development. It is a Development Resource, it is social Wealth, which we must respect and make the most of. From this point of view, it is obvious that given the environmental and financial crises, the implementation of sustainability is not just a way out. It is an imperative need.
What in your opinion, right now, is preventing the implementation of green development in our country?
Promotion of a distorted awareness about sustainability. As I said earlier, the State has created an image of sustainable development in society which is a bet for fund raising. Even the current administration uses green development as a means of publicity, without tackling the essential problems.
For instance, no matter how many incentives we offer for power generation using RES, if we do not invest in networks we will not be able to increase their participation in our energy mix.
On the other hand, the decisions of a counterproductive state constitute barriers for energy saving. I would like to remind you that for over a year these decisions about “Saving at home” just lie there.
At this critical stage, both for the economy and the environment, the State cannot just stand like a wall before the demands of society.
It oughts to assist and not to underestimate the good things of previews goverments.
Is the Greek institutional framework on energy and environmental issues in need of great changes or is it moving towards the right direction?
The environmental issues and the challenges, we are facing, are not issues that each country can face alone. In this, there is the need for collective action from all developed countries. And this is where the subsidiarity principle of the European Union comes into play and can fill the gap created by national institutional frameworks. And fortunately, all international initiatives on energy and the environment are transposed into Greek law within the framework of the European Union.
What the Greek State lacks is political will for the uninterrupted enforcement of the law. An example of this is the Directive 2004/35/EC on Environmental Liability issues. However, the State impedes its full enforcement. Presidential Decree 148/2009 is still essentially inactive as the mix of Ministerial Decisions required are still not ready, two whole years after the deadline for the full transposition of the Directive into Greek law.
You realize that the adoption of European actions is not an institutional framework issue it is rather an issue of essential and honest political will.
What changes would you implement right now in the RES institutional framework?
Law 3851/2010 on the acceleration of RES penetration into our energy balance has just been passed. I am not sure that the law suffices to attain the ambitious goals set by the Ministry of the Environment. I believe that besides the financial aid to producers, there is also the need for significant investments in network modernization and extension. Otherwise, no matter how many laws we pass, we will still fall behind in an area where due to the wind and solar wealth of our country, we could be leaders.
On the other hand, on a national level we must avoid the various impediments that discourage small and large investors. I would like to remind you of the delays in the adoption of the draft law, the numerous corrections in the distribution of the various RES technologies, the imminent requirement of interested investors to submit a bond, etc. These are not strong points for an administration that is really interested in creating a stable investment environment for Renewable Energy Sources.
What is the most appropriate approach to the country’s environmental issues? Should these issues be managed by managers or environmentalists?
I’m not try to evade the question by what I am about to say. I will say it the way I feel it. We cannot have an environment without the economy, just like we cannot have an economy without the environment. We need to make this combination in order to find a balance.
But we should not be mistaken. Social environmental awareness is the only safe way towards a solution to the problems. And this awareness is conveyed through education, innovation and research. In these areas, the current administration has taken no steps.
How would you comment on the Copenhagen Climate Council Summit?
It is clear that the outcomes of the Summit have been poor. And this was no surprise to anyone given the position of the Eastern world.
This, however, should neither disappoint nor discourage us from following in the new efforts initiated mainly by the European Union.
Have you taken, in your day-to-day life, steps towards the protection of the environment?
I will answer a little differently. I am not happy with the extent to which I have taken steps towards protecting the environment. I would have wanted to have done more.
As I would have also wanted to contribute even more in the small community I come from, Schimatari, which suffers from the greatest environmental crime in the country, the pollution of the Asopos River.
I will be able to tell you that I am satisfied only when I see the studies for the full control of the liquid waste from all industries in the area and a complete depollution plan being implemented.