Greece and the Climate

Greece has encountered some of the worst negative effects of climate change. There antiquities sculptures, ancient stone masonry, are being corroded through the harsh precipitation changes. Prolonged drought, hotter heat waves are making it one of the most vulnerable islands to climate change. Mykonos is one of their most popular beaches, attracting thousands of holidaymakers every year. Experts claim that the sea levels will undoubtedly submerge the town and exceptional amounts of its ancient architecture with it.

For six decades, lignite the dirtiest but once cheapest coal has been the driving force of Greece’s economy. The Public Power Corporation (PPC), Greece’s leading energy company, has been at the center of this sector. They felt its previously low electricity production costs and the jobs it provided offset the devastating effects lignite exploitation has on people’s health and the atmosphere.

In former years, the Greek authorities have made it inaccessible for the people to challenge PPC’s unlawful permits. Permits are licenses that set terms and conditions for the development and function of power plants. These reduce pollution of the surrounding environment. They should ordinarily consult the community before a permit is granted, renewed or extended. In Greece some of these licenses were being confirmed in a system that sidesteps the community and judicial regulation. This was providing PPC with the right to pollute above lawful limits and threaten the ecosystem and public health.

Today, lignite has become inefficient and costly. Despite this, the Greek government’s has historically held Greece artificially reliant on this fossil fuel. By circumventing the law, placing industry desires before the health of its people. They had maintained the illusion of a good economic growth. Apart from Germany, Greece was one of the largest lignite consumers in Europe. This island has mined and utilised this brown cheap coal for their energy and economy for many decades.

To understand the importance of lignite, one needs to look at the mining regions in Western Macedonia (Kozani, Florina) and Peloponnese (Megalopoli) where about 6000 jobs still depend on the industry. These regions, as with many coal regions, do not boast of economic alternatives. Concerns in these regions exist given the expected pace of the phase-out: All plants (which belong to the state-owned Public Power Corporation (PPC)) except for one are to be shut down by 2023. Ptolemaida 5 which is still being built and is scheduled to start operating in 2022, is expected to use lignite as fuel until 2028.

During the 2019 New York climate action summit, prime minster Kyriakos Mitsokis pledged to phase out all coal powered electricity production by 2028.

This phase out is already underway and four of the energy plants have subsequently been closed around the end or 2019 mid 2020. Although the closure of these power sites leaves an effective measure for reducing Greece’s emissions. The contributing factor for this decision was the increase in carbon price. Under the EU and the ETS, the lignite power plants were bleeding many millions of euros. This was determined in 2015 through the market shifting as raw gas and renewable energy is in more demand.

Energy consumption in Greece will invariably pick up again, but it is improbable that lignite will ever rise to pre pandemic levels. Although the end of the lignite era is mainly down to the unstable market economics. It will be interesting to determine how Greece adapt to the rapidly developing market conditions.

This is a tremendous giant leap for Greece and the planet. Greece possesses considerable potential with wind and solar power energy. This is a fresh opportunity for Greece to embark on a clean energy future. 

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