Cyprus

   

Environmental Policies

#38
Key Findings
With fragmented and badly coordinated strategies, Cyprus falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 38) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to 2014.

Despite local and international pressures, the country has continued to prioritize financial interests over environmental protections, failing to meet EU obligations. Emissions and renewable-energy targets have not been met. Energy policy is largely defined by offshore fossil-fuel exploration.

Though water management is a serious issue, water-intensive projects continue to be approved. Waste generation is a serious problem, with the country generating three times the EU average in municipal waste, and recycling less than one-third of the EU average.

Building projects often violate planning rules, with construction wastewater dumped into the sea. Environmental protection rules are often relaxed in the interest of profit. Though the country has helped shape EU maritime policies, it is not an agenda setter.

Environment

#40

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
4
Cyprus’ performance with respect to protecting natural resources and limiting or minimizing pollution is deficient as is made clear by the EU with respect to Europe 2020 targets. Environmental policies are insufficient and not adequately implemented. Basic targets of Europe 2020, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption, have not been met.

The national program for the 2010 to 2020 period aims at reforestation and the reduction of fire hazards. However, the protection of Natura 2000 areas, both inland and at sea, is not yet regulated and projects without impact-assessments that are still promoted threaten these areas. The Akamas peninsula and other sites remain at risk by those seeking profit at the expense of environmental protection. Although the European Commission insists on considering water management as the major environmental challenge, authorities continue to approve new water-intensive projects (e.g., golf courses). They also favor desalination while wastewater reuse remains limited. Energy policy is defined to a great extent by the focus on offshore fossil fuel explorations put in motion in recent years. According to the European Commission’s 2019 Post-programme Surveillance Report, Cyprus has “missed the opportunities to explore its natural advantages in solar energy,” and that it could invest in innovation and promote the construction of energy efficient buildings. Waste management is a major challenge, as waste generation in Cyprus is very high. It generates per capita three times more municipal waste and recycles less than one third of the EU average. In 2018, Cyprus received warnings from Brussels for failing to integrate EU directives on the environment into national laws, failing to meet recycling targets and to efficiently manage waste.

The European Commission suggested in 2019 that reducing gas emissions in transport requires more action. In 2017, renewable energy use in transport was only 2.7%, while the overall renewable energy use was 8.9%. The 2020 targets are 10% and 13% respectively.

The “weak environmental performance is a major concern and Cyprus remains vulnerable to climate change” notes the EU in 2019. This conclusion comes as no surprise given the absence of any comprehensive and coherent policy.

Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index ranks Cyprus rather positively. However, Cyprus regularly ignores warnings by experts and existing EU rules, approving new projects with significant negative effects on ecosystems. A 2017 law leaves the door open for the privatization of beaches. The unruly construction of very high buildings in violation of town planning rules is already producing problems as wastewater is being discarded into the sea during construction.

Political expediency favoring financial interests at the expense of environmental protection continued in 2019. There have also been incidents of local authorities violating protection areas and obstructing the on-the-ground work of local and foreign experts on environmental protection. Also, politicians, businesses, and representatives from both public and private institutions are persistently asking the government and the Commission to relax environment protection rules. Local and central government authorities continue to highlight profit to justify the relaxation or cancelation of environmental protection rules.

Citations:
1. Europe 2020 targets, https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-coordination/eu-economic-governance-monitoring-prevention-correction/european-semester/european-semester-your-country/cyprus/europe-2020-targets-statistics-and-indicators-cyprus_de#greenhouse-gas-emissions
2. European Commission, Environmental Implementation Review, Cyprus, 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eir/pdf/report_cy_en.pdf
3. Extrajudicial fine for waste water in the sea (in Greek), Politis, 16 October 2019, https://politis.com.cy/politis-news/kypros/one-tower-polla-apovlita/
4. Environmental decisions placing Cyprus on path to self-destruction, Etek says, Cyprus Mail, 29 March 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/03/29/environmental-decisions-placing-cyprus-path-self-destruction-etek-says/
European Commission, Post-Programme Surveillance Report – Cyprus, Spring 2019, Published June 2019

Global Environmental Protection

#38

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, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced 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 contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
4
Cyprus has ratified many international conventions and protocols relating to environmental protection, and it participates in numerous international organizations and meetings. However, policies are not proactive and though authorities appear concerned with meeting obligations to the EU and other bodies, they often fail to act efficiently. Though the republic has contributed to shaping EU maritime policies, it is not an agenda setter. In 2019, President Anastasiades offered a proposal on cooperation on climate change to the UN Secretary-General and leaders of eastern Mediterranean countries. NGOs called the initiative hypocritical given the country’s poor environmental performance.

Citations:
Government accused of hypocrisy over climate change action, Cyprus Mail, 24 September 2019, https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/09/24/government-accused-of-hypocrisy-over-climate-change-action/
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