By Annette Chrysostomou
Cyprus is in the 10 top worst performing countries when it comes to the use of natural resources, and 13 Cypruses would be needed to meet the energy demand of the 2020 lifestyle.
That is just one of the staggering results a group of international experts arrived at last week.
The group was in Nicosia for a week from May 8 until May 15 to study the city and advise residents on how to make their city a greener and healthier place.
This is no easy feat, they concluded. “Cypriots live in a state of emergency, but they do not seem to realise it,” they announced at the end of their stay, when they presented the results of their investigations to interested listeners in the atrium of the Centre for Visual Arts & Research (CVAR) on Wednesday evening.
The British High Commissioner, the Italian Ambassador, the heads of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot Chambers of Commerce, scholars, academics, young entrepreneurs and seasoned environmentalists were among the audience.
The suburbs especially are petrol and heat traps, encouraging the use of cars to get around. Buildings in these areas are not designed to cope with heat and climate control, was another result of the research.
To balance the carbon footprint of the city of Nicosia one needs to cover 80 times as much land with dense forest, the group said, adding this means that to balance the carbon footprint of a single household one has to cover 1.5 football pitches with forest.
But the experts from the UK and the Netherlands promised to come up with solutions, and they did.
The island has a huge potential for solar energy, and the old city especially has a potential for climate control strategies which don’t have to be expensive.
The Venetian walls and surrounding grounds, for example can be used for sustainable purposes, such as gardens and to place PV panels.
As well, the old buildings demonstrate how we should build our houses, with covered balconies and Albedo roofs, which are able to reflect sunlight and absorb less heat than other rooftops.
Some of the solutions are not that cute and require a change in lifestyle, such as the observation by the experts that it is time to say goodbye to at least one of the two cars that the average Cypriot household has.
This, though, is not a sacrifice, but also an opportunity, they say.
There should be a good alternative to the car such as better public transport and electric vehicles, plus it will make the city more pedestrian-friendly, which in turn will improve the health of the residents.
“If Nicosia actually applies all of our basic ideas, it is actually possible to become carbon neutral by 2050!,” they concluded.
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By Annette Chrysostomou