Climate change action can help economy's problems, BoG governor claims

In spite of Greece's current economic difficulties, action on climate change will prove beneficial for its economy in the long-term, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos stressed on Wednesday. He was speaking at an event to present the central bank's report on "The environmental, economic and social repercussions of climate change on Greece" held at the Athens concert hall.
"The adoption of policies to mitigate the repercussions of climate change on Greece and policies for adapting to these changes, while appearing to be obstructed by today's acute economic problem, can truly contribute to its solution," he stressed.

According to the report prepared by a team set up by Provopoulos in 2009, a programme to drastically reduce greenhouse gases will greatly reduce the negative impact of climate change on the Greek economy by the end of the century.

Specifically, he said a programme with an estimated cost of 113 billion euro up to 2050 and 142 billion euro up to 2100 would restrict the cost of climate change to 294 billion euro by the end of the century. If no action were taken, by contrast, the estimated cost of climate change would be 60 percent higher at nearly 701 billion euro. In addition, no action to reduce human-generated greenhouse gases would lead to a 2 percent reduction of GDP by 2050 and a 6 percent reduction of GDP by 2100.

Provopoulos said the report presented on Wednesday was just the "first step" in an ongoing effort by the central bank that would be extended into more areas.

Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said the report would act as a reference point in European dialogue on climate change issues, noting that the discussion in Europe had never been linked with a transition to another model for growth based on a green economy.

The minister stressed the usefulness of the report, both in terms of its road map for energy until 2050 and other targets. This envisaged that almost 100 percent of electricity production will be covered by renewable energy sources by 2050, whose total power output would be increased to 40 gigaWatts from 15 gigaWatts in 2020.

It also called for a 60 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century and use of energy conservation measures to keep energy consumption at current levels.

Among others, it envisaged a switch to fixed-track means of transport for the bulk of transport needs and an energy-efficiency upgrade for buildings throughout the country. It also called for increased use of biomass and improvement of networks, energy storage facilities, dams and use electrically-powered cars.

Presenting the report, the committee coordinator Christos Zerefos warned that the predicted repercussions on the national economy examined were "negative and in some cases, extremely negative". Among others, he indicated a forecast for an additional 20 days of drought in the eastern mainland and Crete and up to 40 additional days of drought in 2071-2100.

This included an increase in the days with high fire risk by 40 days in 2071-2100 for eastern Greece, leading to severe repercussions for tourism due to changes in arrival dates.

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