The government cannot simultaneously be the leader of the Mediterranean’s energy hub and its climate action, a representative of the organisers of Friday’s Climate March told the Cyprus Mail on Monday.
The march follows the global call for a general strike for climate justice and against extinction and is set to gather outside the Supreme Court in Nicosia at 5.30pm on Friday, to demand a Cyprus free from fossil fuels.
“The reason for gathering outside the Supreme Court is that we’re going to stage an interactive theater, where a judge will have to decide whether we’re condemning future generations to a climate disaster,” said one of the protest’s organisers, Maria Hadjimichael.
According to a press release issued on Monday, the march organisers state that Cyprus “is not implementing its international obligations and proclamations with due care and consistency,” and has set environmental targets “well below the targets of the Paris Agreement, the aim of which is to keep the rise of the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius”.
“We’re failing all of our targets for 2020; 2030 targets are way more ambitious and current plans don’t show how to achieve them, and even 2030 EU targets are not ambitious enough compared to what the science says is required,” Hadjimichael said.
“The government needs to decide what kind of leader it wants to be and pick a side: either it wants to take action for the climate, or it wants to extract gas,” Hadjimichael said, highlighting that Cypriot society is faced with the same task.
In terms of the environmental targets set for 2020, Hadjimichael said that Cyprus is only half way there in terms of greenhouse gases, and three quarters of the way there in terms of renewable energy sources, “but for our use of renewable sources in mobility specifically, we’re a quarter of the way there, and we have only a year left.”
According to the press release, Cyprus is not even expected to achieve its 2020 target of replacing the use of fossil fuels in the transport sector by 2030.
Renewable energy sources (RES) are a particularly sore spot in the government’s actions towards combatting climate change, as even attempts to produce energy from renewable sources are being made through environmentally damaging means, Hadjimichael stressed.
“The recent period has seen an increase in the government’s tendency to issue licences for photovoltaic parks in areas of high environmental and agricultural value, in places that need to be protected.”
The reason for this, the press release states, is that the 2010-2020 National Renewable Energy Action Plan has not been subjected to a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, resulting in uncontrolled and dispersed placement of RES projects, with photovoltaic parks being placed in environmentally sensitive areas and wind farms in state forests and important migratory routes for wild birds, such as the one in Khapotami.
“Instead of the government of the Republic of Cyprus safeguarding the public and the public interest by protecting, preserving and managing environmentally sensitive areas of particular ecological value, they chose to sacrifice them on the altar of profit for the few, through the licensing of incompatible projects and unsustainable development plans,” the press release states.
The organisers refer to development projects such as “golf courses with residential and tourist developments, marinas and mooring spaces, integrated tourist complexes outside development boundaries, integrated developments of large and complex uses, as well as high-rises in the urban centres”.
Asked if the EU is the route through which these environmentally damaging actions can be challenged, Hadjimichael said that “yes, as they go against EU directives, but even if you manage to prove that something has been done incorrectly, the EU still might not take action, as to do so would be a political act.”