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Greece'If we want to save the climate, we must act now'

‘If we want to save the climate, we must act now’

Hellenic News of America
Hellenic News of America
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The world is at risk of missing the goal of restricting planetary warming to 1.5C unless all countries get behind the effort and act swiftly, Greece’s ambassadors to the European Climate Pact warned in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA), uniting their voices with those of colleagues in another 27 European Union countries in the battle against climate change.

“If we want to save the climate, we must act now,” was the central message sent by the 55 men and women from every part of Greece, each an expert in their respective field, who are part of the effort, stressing that “no one must be left behind”.

Among them Konstantina Togaridou, a Just Transition expert, who was one of the first ambassadors of the European Green Deal and the Climate Pact. Based in Western Macedonia, Togaridou is involved in the effort for a just green transition, promoting the necessity for a shift toward green growth.

“What I stress every time are the reasons why it was an urgent necessity to phase out lignite in Western Macedonia as part of the European Green Deal. I participate in actions that are related to linking environmental issues with a just transition and the green transition generally, through my participation in conferences and seminars. We have set in motion and are in the process of creating a chiefly educational tool aimed at groups, to primary school but also preschool children, on how we can communicate the necessity for green growth, on what the European Green Deal is, on why it is fundamental that it is part of our education and on why the European Green Deal must be adopted over a very broad range of our activities,” she told ANA-MPA.

Togaridou explained that she decided to become a European Climate Pact ambassador as part of this effort, noting that it was an excellent institution that provided opportunities for networking with scientists and experts on environmental issues within the EU, for exchanging knowledge and best practices. She also noted a “gap” as regards information on both the EU Green deal and environmental issues more generally in Greece.

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The national coordinator for the EU Climate Pact in Greece since September 2023 is the organisation ‘Initialising Energy Balance Towards Zero’ (INZEB). According to INZEB CEO Alice Korovesi, the aim of the Climate Pact ambassadors is to “mobilise as many people as they can to take action in relation to the climate”.

“We must act now if we want to save something of this Earth, if we want to save the climate. We must always look at things as a whole, not as individuals. The fact that it is not happening in our home or in our neighbourhood now does not mean it might not happen tomorrow or the day after,” Korovesi told ANA.

“We must protect what we can, multiplying our efforts, because time is short. The benefit will assuredly have an impact on our generation later on but chiefly for the children, which must at least live in an environment that will be the ideal one that we had 20-30 years ago, when we did not yet have a sense of the size of the problem and the enormity of the danger,” she added.

Korovesi noted that the 55 Greek ambassadors of the European Climate Pact are active in a number of different areas, with actions that range from educational to ‘climate walks’, while the European Climate pact helps to “unite the countries of the European Union to say that we must in some way cooperate to face all these challenges.”

Eleni Papadopoulou, also from INZEB, said the goal was to help increase awareness in Greek society: “It is an issue that concerns everyone, from school children to the elderly. Everybody must help, to the degree they can, from a very small action to more active involvement, to mobilise more people. To begin with, we want everyone to accept climate change, because some do not accept it, and from this realisation to work more actively so that we can all achieve the goal of climate neutrality.”

Another ambassador joining the uphill struggle against the climate crisis is mountain climber Vanessa Archontidou, a woman who climbed the highest peaks on the seven continents of the world and founded the organisation A Woman Can Be, as well as a candidate MEP with the New Democracy party.

“Climbing the mountains of the world I saw that the human footprint is huge. It began, therefore, as a concern because when you climb the highest peaks of the continents and you see the glaciers melting and the people that live below these areas experiencing conditions such as a lack of water and being forced to move…I began thinking that there are serious things happening here, which will gradually start to affect our lives. One reason, which shook me greatly, was that on returning from the mission to Everest to the house where I grew up, where I had spent my summers, after there had been a mega-fire, [I found] that the house had been burnt, my childhood memories in my neighbourhood had been burnt,” she said to ANA.

She explained that she had decided to join in the effort after reading the Climate Pact and the policies concerning the climate crisis, considering that she could best contribute to the effort to communicate the urgency of the European Climate Pact and relay her knowledge to people. She also stressed the need for everyone to work together:
“We are not proceeding with steady steps. I personally consider that we will not succeed in achieving the goal of 1.5 degrees if we don’t proceed together throughout Europe but also in the rest of the world at the same pace. We must find the means to do this, the educational means and the ways to make them interesting.”

This was her goal through A Woman Can Be, she added, enriching the message with documentaries and images so that people could understand that this was an issue that affected many aspects of their daily lives, targeting her message to children aged 10 to 14, visiting schools and using an educational tool of the European Commission, as well as programmes to empower women in the agrifood sector and missions to parts of the world affected by the climate crisis.

Professor Konstantinos Psomopoulos of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of West Attica, after a lifetime of working on environmental, waste management and energy issues, said the problem was not a lack of awareness but a lack of action.

“The aim is to formulate policies to make our cities cyclical and to reduce the environmental footprint by contributing to the cyclical economy. We are moving in this direction but we have a lot of ground to cover,” Psomopoulos said, noting that even the small habits of ordinary people can have a terrific impact on efforts to limit the repercussions of climate change.

“If we don’t do the self-evident, then nothing will happen,” he pointed out, while he was pessimistic that the target of 1.5C can be met.

“We have already missed the goal of 1.5C [warming]. In the previous three years there have already been long periods where the temperature has exceeded 1.5 degrees,” Psomopoulos said, while noting that the public are aware of the issue of climate change but do not respond with the appropriate actions.

“People are interested about the climate, however. The problem is not one of awareness or knowledge, finally, but of action. That is what I see and what saddens me. There is no lack of awareness, there is a lack of will for action on even the simplest thing that we do. I think that this is the biggest problem,” he said.


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