President Nicos Christodoulides on Thursday reaffirmed Cyprus’ unwavering commitment to combatting climate change, underlining the urgency of taking proactive measures to address this global crisis.
Addressing a conference held at Nicosia’s Filoxenia and organised by the deputy ministry of tourism on the effects of climate change, he outlined a series of actions, reflecting the government’s approach to mitigating the effects of climate change.
“Climate change is no longer a remote threat, it is a reality that we must confront,” Christodoulides said at the start of his opening speech.
Cyprus, an island nation with a thriving tourism industry, is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change.
“We must act decisively.”
One of the primary initiatives highlighted by the president is the government’s commitment to increasing energy production from renewable sources.
“We are determined to reduce our carbon footprint,” Christodoulides said. “Our efforts include modifications to the plan for the production of electricity from renewable energy sources, and I am pleased to announce that further actions on this matter following our Council of Ministers meeting will be announced soon.”
The president explained that these will not only contribute to environmental sustainability, but also help in reducing the cost of electricity and boosting the share of renewable energy in Cyprus’ energy mix.
Addressing the issue of air pollution, Christodoulides admitted that more needs to be done.
“We recognise the pressing need to address this issue, which significantly affects our daily lives. Among our initiatives is the promotion of public transportation,” he said.
The recent decision to provide free bus rides from GSP stadium to heart of Nicosia was initially met with scepticism, but Christodoulides expressed his satisfaction at the public’s swift embrace of the initiative.
“Today, all the buses are brimming with passengers, and we are already discussing plans to expand this service to Limassol and subsequently to all cities,” he said.
Christodoulides then noted the heightened concern about climate change among the younger generation.
“During my recent pre-election campaign, I had the opportunity to engage with many people, and I observed that the issue of the environment and climate change rarely surfaced in discussions with individuals aged 40 and older.
“However, it was a prevalent concern among the youth, those under 25 years old.”
Acknowledging the paramount role of the tourism sector in Cyprus’ economy, Christodoulides emphasised the government’s commitment to ensuring its resilience to the impacts of climate change.
‘These efforts will be integrated into the National Tourism Strategy,” he confirmed.
In conclusion, he vouched for the government’s dedication to safeguarding Cyprus’ “enviable climate and natural beauty while facing the imminent threat of climate change”.
“Cyprus is determined to take the lead in facing the climate crisis head-on. We are committed to preserving our nation’s beauty and resilience against this global threat,” Christodoulides concluded.
During the conference, the Deputy Tourism Minister Costas Koumis stressed that without timely actions, there would be a reduction in visitors, especially in countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, due to the effects of climate change.
“We must realise that climate change is indeed a threat to tourism and determine how to tackle it,” he said.
Koumis also underlined the need for a collective effort.
“Addressing climate change must be a collective endeavour, and today’s conference demonstrates that the tourism sector cares and will confront the climate crisis.”
Koumis then added that the current government has already taken steps to combat climate change. He urged all stakeholders to collaborate in mitigating the impacts of climate change on the tourism industry.
Speaking after Koumis, the president of the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) Philippos Droushiotis said it is important to come up with measures and promptly implement them to address the realities of climate change.
“We need to prioritise the fight against climate change, as it is a top concern for every professional and employee in the tourism sector,” he said.
“Our priority is for Cyprus to become a sustainable and responsible destination by implementing policies that align with the global objectives for addressing climate change,” Droushiotis said, adding that the consequences of this year’s wildfires in Southern Europe led to a significant loss of tourists in Greece and Italy.
To symbolise unity and a commitment to environmental sustainability, Droushiotis announced that the forestry department would plant 300 tree saplings in the Aglandja municipality, with each sapling representing a conference participant.