Climate change is on our doorstep. There is an urgency to address this global concern, and Cyprus can no longer drag its feet on this.
No individual state can tackle climate challenges on its own.
Our EU membership has already given us directions on how we can act.
Now we have to accelerate our pace to achieve the objectives of the “European Green Deal”:
- End our dependence on coal and become climate neutral by 2050
- Reduce by 55% greenhouse emissions by 2030, compared to 1990
- Full energy potential in new buildings, limit energy loss in existing buildings
These can be achieved through the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the new EU Funding Programme 2021-2027.
This time, we must apply these two development programmes differently to the short-term policies of the past, which have not laid the foundations for the future.
In the past few years, Cyprus has not made any real progress towards any of the goals relating to viable growth, as set out by the EU.
Strategies and plans of action have been drafted by the Anastasiades government but have ended up in a drawer.
Citizens have paid a high cost for delays and inaction by the government in adopting and implementing laws on managing pollutants and waste.
This government is responsible for the absence of the appropriate infrastructure and incentives, and unfortunately, even today, there is no coordination between the relevant services and the distribution of responsibilities.
Can we change this? My answer is a definite yes.
Through a modern coordinated state that will serve the citizen, we can work hard to achieve these goals and bring Cyprus to the forefront of tackling climate change instead of lagging.
- A quick turn to renewable energy sources (RES). Cyprus’ climate helps to exploit the production of solar energy fully. One may very well wonder how other countries, even in northern Europe with a lot less sunshine, have managed to turn so fast and so successfully to RES.
- The state must take the lead. Public buildings, ministries, other government buildings and schools should activate the EU directive on saving energy. No carbon dioxide pollutants; instead, photovoltaics and special insulation.
- The Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), the island’s biggest electricity production plant, must determine irrevocably its strategy to stop using mazut (heavy diesel) and use a more friendly fuel to the benefit of the consumers and reduce the levy incurred by the state.
- Develop a circular economy and biological agriculture.
The green movement concerns us all.
We want to make a big investment in our island and our people, particularly in the new generation, using European know-how and available financial resources.
The protection of the environment is a new right.
I advocate amending the constitution, ensuring respect for the environment as an individual right for the citizen.
If individual parties or the state violate legislation on protecting the environment, they could be brought directly and effectively before the courts.
Violation of the law should relate to all environmental policies, including areas designated as Natura.
Our primary objective is “A whole and green Cyprus.”
One Cyprus, united, free of Turkish troops, should be in a position to develop its ecosystem as a single entity.
Our children will be able to work throughout our island.
The state will regain control of its natural and environmental wealth to the benefit of all its citizens.
We will address the big environmental challenges our country is facing, which do not stop at the ceasefire line, including the planning and managing for dangers arising from climate change such as fires, floods, drought, desertification and coastal erosion.
This is the whole green Cyprus that we all deserve.
By Achilleas Demetriades