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Our View: Government hypocrisy regarding the environment is sickening

Υπουργός Γεωργίας – Συνέντευξη Τύ
File photo: Former Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis

March was a busy month when it comes to environmental issues and climate change, marking both Earth Day and World Meteorology Day and giving the chance to politicians to publicly brag about their green credentials.

But while the government is going full speed ahead when it comes to introducing green taxes and the Net Zero agenda, actual environmental protection is taking a beating.

It’s almost as if in reality, they are not connected, as if the hastened Net Zero push has become an industry in itself – punish consumers to the max into reducing energy usage – but proceed at a snail’s pace when it comes to protecting the actual environment in the here and now.

The month of March also brought a new rebuke from the EU in this respect when it announced it was taking Cyprus to the European Court of Justice for failure to protect natural habitats. Of course, this can’t just be blamed on the current government, but they’ve had a year already and what we’ve seen with the massive road scandal in the Akamas is more déjà vu.

On Monday, Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides went public about his warnings in 2021 of the potential danger of Cyprus being taken to the European Court of Justice over its failure to implement the Habitats Directive. Of course, he likes to let it be known publicly that he’s ‘on the right side’ of things but he’s not wrong here.

Cyprus had six years to fulfil its obligations under the directive. The island has been in the EU 20 years this coming May 1 so the EU indictment was quite damning. It said Cyprus had formally designated 37 sites as special areas of conservation but had yet to establish the necessary conservation measures for 28 of those sites. Moreover, the conservation objectives for five sites were not adequate.

Michaelides said he had received a response to his warning in 2021 from then agriculture minister Costas Kadis effectively saying everything was in hand and it would be all sorted so that Cyprus did not end up at the Court of Justice. Famous last words.

Kudos to the Green Party for summing it up last week during a few clashes over the green taxes which Finance Minister Makis Keravnos declared wouldn’t “pose a threat to households or businesses”.

“In a country where natural habitats are being used for consumption, where bulldozers trash the Natura 2000 areas and whoever can, erects cathedrals and restaurants on top of them, no minister can ask people or businesses to pay a tax in the name of the environment,” the party said. “We have been warning for decades and the rulers were all deaf. Now, they are rushing to blame their mistakes on ordinary people.”

They make a good point. People are about to be financially squeezed in the name of saving the environment by those paying lip service to environmental protection.

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