The bad pupil sent out of the Kyoto class

Article published on June 12, 2008
community published
Article published on June 12, 2008
In the Greek newspapers last month one could read a lot of scholar and educative metaphors reporting the following fact: NATO has refused Greece the right to apply and therefore participate in the Kyoto’s protocol.
According to the newspaper Ta Nea on the 22nd April, this sounds like a “hard slap on the cheek”; “we have been expelled from Kyoto”, claims a journalist in the same newspaper the following day. What has Greece really done to be punished in such an aggressive way?

grue_Thessalonique The story started with a NATO committee in charge of the protocol framework application. In every industrialized country wanting to be part of Kyoto’s protocol, this committee had to inspect the quality control measures all over the world used by each participant with the objective being to reduce gas emissions. During its congress in Bonn, this committee refused to accept the Greek national plan proposed for measuring and then reducing its industrial pollution, because it was not efficient enough. The newspaper Kathimerini indicates that, according to the experts, this plan has shown “Greece’s complete inability to measure the quantity of gas emissions”. As a result, this country has been told to leave the Kyoto’s protocol organization. It’s possible for Greek government to propose another plan within 2 months, but the task will be hard.

This exclusion means a lot for the country and for its European partners. Firstly, Greece is now recognized to be “the only country all over the world that hasn’t been able to write a gas emission quantity report”, emphasized the Greek director of the WWF. Alekos Alavanos, leader of the SYN, a Greek left wing party, also stated in Eleftherotypia (23rd April) that “Greece is the very first country accused of not being allowed to apply to the Kyoto’s protocol by NATO. Due to the ridiculous situation no other country can take Greece’s place. ” He then referred to the very immediate effect of NATO committee’s decision: the European Union wants Greece to be judged by European Institutions because the European laws regarding gas pollution have been broken. Indeed in order to comply with the Kyoto rules, Europe has decided on some common goals supposed to be reached by each participant i.e. to share together the workload and effort of reducing gas emissions. If Greece fails to tell exactly how much gas it has produced every year, it will be impossible to say if the gas emissions reduction all over Europe is real or not! The thing that really irritates the European authorities, is that this Greek failure has done nothing but to severely damage Europe image regarding the environment. The idea of Europe participation in the Kyoto’s protocol was supposed to be the contrary, to prove to the rest of the world that Europe is a pioneer in this field!

The affair also reveals how the Greek government deals with the environment. European experts were very surprised when they noted that there wasn’t a Greek “environment ministry”; there only exists an “environment, regional planning and public works ministry”. Now all the left parties in the country have expressed their shock by this fact. The Green party and the PASOK (socialist) asked for the creation of a suitable ministry like the other 18 European countries (see Eleftehros Typos). A journalist in Eleftherotypia, Kostas Moschona, criticized the actual name of the ministry: he believes that ‘the environment’ and ‘public works’ can’t go together. He also stresses the fact that, because of this particularity, incredibly the Greek minister in charge of environmental matters, has never been to Brussels to attend a meeting with other European ministers “to know what it’s going on in Europe”.

The actual minister has been fervently attacked by many journalists. In an article published in the very well respected newspaper ''Kathimerini'', Alexis Papachela reminds us that Yorgos Souflias has been until now a very discrete and hard-working minister. But the journalist estimates that the attacks he is now receiving are completely justified because the problem he has to deal with concerns “the protection of the common interest” and makes Greece look like “a third-World country (…) which doesn’t even have a minister yet alone an environmental policy”. “As many of his colleagues, Yorgos Souflias hasn’t moved on from the 60’s and still treats the environment matters as they did 40 years ago, i.e. it’s an necessary thing but it’s an enormous pain in the neck.(…). He doesn’t consider it as he must, in other words as the biggest threat of our times”.

Finally the newspaper articles are about: “Who then is guilty for this affair?” On the one hand, the lefties are trying to take advantage of the situation and accuse the government of inefficiency; on the other hand, the minister concerned accuses the previous socialist governments and the national observatory who have written the gas emissions report, as the newspaper Ta Nea reveals in its 22nd April edition. And, of course, every body is looking forward to the new version of the file.