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Top presidential candidates share positions on environmental topics

coffeeshop the second television debate featuring the three presidential candidates of the parties was nowhere near as entertaining as the first

Disy-backed Averof Neophytou was the only one of the three main presidential candidates who failed to respond to a series of environmental related questions, including his climate crisis policies.

The questions were submitted to the campaign offices of Averof Neophytou, Andreas Mavroyiannis and Nikos Christodoulides by environmental NGO Terra Cypria on January 5.

Last week, the organisation published a summary of how the candidates commented on Terra Cypria’s four positions, alongside their opinion on the answers. Neophytou was the only candidate who failed to respond.

The topics concerned the Akamas’ development, the illegal bird killing, dispersed development, and the climate crisis.

The first question concerned their opinion on the Akamas development plan and whether they would implement the conditions set by the environment department.

Both Mavroyiannis and Christodoulides said the environment department conditions must be fully implemented in the plan, however the former failed to provide his opinion on the plan as well as his recommendations on how to manage private land in the area.

For his part, Christodoulides said the development model in Akamas should focus on the conservations of the unique landscape always in consultation with the communities while the road network should be improved within the park. Terra Cypria agreed with his position, excluding the part when he spoke for the creation of a fund specifically for the Akamas management.

In the next question about the Illegal killing of migratory birds and whether the would reinstate the operation of the poaching prevention unit upon their election, the two candidates answered in the affirmative.

Regarding the increase of the relevant fine to €2,000 from €200, Terra Cypria disagreed with Mavroyiannis who said this should be put in consultation, and said it needs further clarification after Christodoulides said he will look into it upon his election.

“If we are elected to office, we will study in depth whether this amendment has reduced or increased the killing of these species. Depending on the results of this investigation, appropriate action will be taken,” Christodoulides said.

As regard the individual residence policy, the candidates were asked whether they will address this and similar policies which allow dispersed development in rural areas.

Terra Cypria was concerned with some points of Mavroyiannis’ response, where he said that dispersed development is only allowed as an exception following strict conditions.

It agreed with his position to licence such development only if it concerns primary residence and provided there are specific social reasons.

The NGO was in full agreement with Christodoulides’ answer who said this practice creates “a number of problems in the countryside”. Such residences are a source of fires, alter the natural landscape and generally create scattered development with negative consequences, he said.

The candidate added that people who do not own residential land and have proven social and economic problems can be provided land within the developmental limits of towns and villages “so that every citizen can have a home”.

About climate crisis, the question concerned actions to tackle it and measures to reduce emissions in the transport sector as well as energy transition.

The question is complex, Mavroyiannis noted, who proceeded to explain that one of his main points is to establish a deputy ministry of green transition and sustainability.

Both candidates said they will improve the national plan on energy and the climate in line with the European Union’s agreements and invest on renewable energy sources (RES).

Mavroyiannis added that the upgrade of waste management of bulky items is also included in his policies.

With regard to transport, which accounts for a large share of emissions, he said that smart bus stations will be established and more sidewalks will be constructed.  On the same issue, Christodoulides said the “aim is to take such measures as will bring about a substantial reduction in the sector”.

He added that he aims to take advantage of renewable energy sources, modernise the electricity network and increase the incentives for the use of solar panels.

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