Cyprus Mail

Sounding the alarm to MPs over climate-change effects in Cyprus

By Evie Andreou

Climate change has led to a rise of the average temperature in Cyprus, drop in annual average rainfall, an increase of energy needs and decrease in farm produce, MPs heard on Wednesday.

The House environment committee held a meeting dedicated to climate change on the occasion of World Environment Day, marked each year on June 5.

The meeting was addressed by House Speaker, Demetris Syllouris, while Agriculture Minister, Costas Kadis and Environment Commissioner, Ioanna Panayiotou also made interventions.

Among the issues discussed was the management of plastic waste in Cyprus, policies and measures on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Speakers sounded the alarm on the consequences of climate change in Cyprus and the need to take measures to tackle it.

Kadis said that, within the year, the national plan for climate and energy would be completed. Its aim is to help the country meets its obligations.

As regards climate change, Kadis said that Cyprus needed to achieve reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent by 2030. This, he said, requires many changes in the energy sector.

He also stressed the need to take measures to adapt to climate change, recalling the prolonged droughts and the severe weather phenomena observed in Cyprus.

“We have embarked on a comprehensive effort to shape and implement policies in a number of critical areas,” Kadis said, adding that the results of these policies will soon be visible.

Environment Commissioner, Ioanna Panayiotou said that the region of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean is more affected by climate change than any other region of the planet.

She stressed the importance of raising awareness among the public.

On the management of plastic waste, director of the environment department, Costas Hadjipanayiotou, said that the objective of the existing waste management strategy is that 50 per cent of paper, plastic, glass and metal be subject to process of re-use and recycling by 2020.

Today, he said, about 25 to 28 per cent of these materials are being recycled, while around 12 to 13 per cent of the plastic produced is being recycled.

The target set under the new European directive is to recycle 55 per cent of all these materials by 2025, he said.

Senior official of the environment department, Theodoulos Mesimeris said that the Paris Agreement of 2015 entails two obligations: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing a national plan for climate change adaptation.

On greenhouse gas emissions, he said, that Cyprus’ national target is to reduce it by five per cent by 2020 and by 24 per cent by 2030.

After 2020, he said that the annual target is such that if an integrated approach is not developed and no additional measures are taken, Cyprus will have an increase in emissions, and these overruns should be covered through emission trading. Polluters will be required to hold permits in amount equal to their emissions. If they want to increase their emissions, they must buy permits from others willing to sell them.

Mesimeris also stressed that emphasis should be given to renewable energy sources (RES), noting that the price of electricity is expected to have additional costs due to greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the new national plan requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that must be submitted to the EU in 2019, is already being prepared.

Climate change, he said, has led to an increase in the average temperature in Cyprus, a reduction in the average annual rainfall, an increase in total energy needs and a reduction in agricultural production among others.

He said that the strategy for adapting to climate change includes 57 actions in 10 areas.

Syllouris said that climate change impact has become especially visible in Cyprus and stressed that measures must be taken to avert consequences.

He also said that everyone should be concerned about the very serious and important problem of plastic waste, which, “ends up in the air we breathe, on the ground, in the seas, and in the food we consume and it takes years to break down.”

The only ones that will lose out of the destruction of the environment he said, “it is us, and our children and grandchildren who will experience the negative consequences of the phenomenon.”



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