Cyprus’ Environment Commissioner, Maria Panayiotou stressed the importance of changing habits and mentality for a clean environment and sustainable future, addressing an event for the “Earth Hour” in Nicosia, noting, among other things, that close to half of emissions in the country come from transport.

Speaking at the event on Saturday evening, she said that the government’s priority was “hard work and synergies”, with the aim of upgrading citizens’ quality of life in terms of sustainability.

Panayiotou added that, “Earth Hour” is not the 60 minutes when the lights are turned off, but all year round.

“That’s the goal, for the shores, rivers, seas and air to be clean,” she said.

The Commissioner also referred to the environmental goals set by the European Commission, through the European Green Deal and the Fit For 55 legislative package, saying that, “we must, by making use of European tools and funds, proceed with the implementation of a comprehensive and horizontal strategy for the protection of the environment that will lead to a reduction of emissions, to the development of circular economy, to the implementation of green policies that ensure the citizens’ right to clean water and air, to policies that protect and preserve the biodiversity of Cyprus, which allow the proper management of our natural resources and the welfare of animals”.

Panayiotou said that the innovation of this year’s “Earth Hour” for Cyprus lies in that various agencies and departments have joined forces and jointly decided that, “in order to change habits, we must raise awareness among citizens, and, at the same time urge them to change”.

One of these collaborations concerned that with the Ministry of Transport and the public transport companies, free use of city and intercity buses was offered for 24 hours. The Commissioner explained that, this move, was “particularly important”, because 49 per cent of Cyprus’ emissions, come from transport.

“If we change our habits, if each of us leaves their car even for a while and takes the bus, if we include sustainable mobility in our routine, it will literally breathe life into the whole island, to all of us who have the right to breathe clean air”, she said.

She also said that, during the 60 minutes for the Earth, together with the municipalities, they turned off the lights of town halls and of the buildings of the interior ministry, as well as the presidential palace.