Greece

   

Environmental Policies

#36
Key Findings
With environmental policies neglected under the crisis, Greece falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 36) for its environmental policies. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to 2014.

Industrial production and greenhouse gas emissions have declined as a result of the economic crisis. However, progress toward use of renewables has been slow, without decisive government support.

Tourism, agricultural development and public works have long taken priority over environmental protection. Waste management is a serious problem. Recent forest fires and a serious oil spill have produced serious environmental damage.

The country has not pursued any major environmental-protection goals in a systematic fashion, and the crisis has further undermined environmental-policy management. Greece participates in international conferences, and signed the Paris climate accord, but does not contribute significantly to global regimes.

Environment

#39

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
4
Because of the economic crisis, between 2010 and 2015, industrial production and greenhouse gas emissions in Greece declined. Yet, Greece has not made enough progress in producing and using renewable energy, even though physical conditions (sunshine, winds) should have facilitated a shift to renewable energy sources. Greek state authorities are undecided on this policy shift.

Meanwhile, municipalities are incapable or unwilling to practice material recycling and thus Greece scores low on that dimension. The performance of Greece regarding the share of municipal waste that is recycled is rather low (16% of total municipal waste), and recycling has been increasing only modestly during the past 15 years.

In the period under review, a small Greek oil tanker overturned and spilled oil in the Saronic gulf, on the east coast of Attica. The response of the Greek authorities was slow and inadequate, and the waters and beaches of Athens became heavily polluted. Further, in the summer of 2017, wildfires caused extensive destruction to forests in northeast Attica, very close to Athens.

At the root of Greece’s environmental problems lie several causes: the lack of state mechanisms capable of controlling sources of pollution, unchecked urban development, large infrastructure projects and negligent consumer behavior. Environmental and forest management is haphazard, and subject to the vicissitudes of changing political leaderships and interests.

Indeed, in Greece, the development of tourism and agriculture has often proceeded in a haphazard manner, and has always taken priority over environmental concerns. Public works and town planning have always been afforded priority over environmental protection. The result has been that none of the three targets of environmental protection – climate, renewable water sources and forest area biodiversity – have ever been pursued in a systematic fashion.

To sum up, despite the fact that some members of the current government are ecologically aware, the natural environment in Greece continues to be systematically neglected. In the period under review, the situation worsened because of a major oil spill and forest fires. However, regarding environmental sustainability, and given its conducive geographical morphology (long coastline) and helpful weather conditions (sunshine, winds blowing in the Aegean sea), Greece certainly has the potential for improvement.

Citations:
Data on Greece’s performance regarding renewable energy sources, waste generation and recycling is drawn on the SGI database available on this platform.
European Environmental Agency, Greece: Country Briefing (https://www.eea.europa.eu/soer-2015/countries/greece)

Global Environmental Protection

#34

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
4
Greece participated in the negotiations and signed the Paris Climate Agreement of December 2015. However, owing to its prolonged economic crisis, Greece has not carried enough international clout to substantially contribute to strengthening global environmental protection regimes.
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