ATHENS, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Greece has raised its environmental profile, which is also seen to improve the country's competitiveness, but still faces major challenges and remains vulnerable to climate change, warned a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this week.
The organization's "Environmental Performance Reviews: Greece 2020" acknowledged that the country "has decoupled emissions from its gross domestic product", with its swing toward renewable energy sources and its pledge to shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2028.
"The energy mix has shifted toward cleaner fuels, but the economy strongly relies on fossil fuels," argued the report.
Besides working toward adhering to European Union (EU) climate requirements as it is supposed to, Greece has joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under which China and its partners set up last year an International Green Development Coalition. This, according to UN Environment Program, presents an opportunity for recipient countries to use Belt and Road investments to achieve sustainable development goals.
The report noted that "since 2013 energy consumption, municipal waste generation and pesticide use have grown more quickly than economic activity. Air pollution has declined, but Greece lacks a program to reduce significant negative health effects."
It went on to observe that "in a welcome move, Greece adopted a National Circular Economy Strategy and introduced a tax on single-use plastic bags. However, most municipal waste ends up in landfills, not all of which comply with EU requirements, and hazardous waste management remains a challenge."
The issue of water resources is particularly significant for Greece. "Water scarcity is expected to intensify with climate change," warned the OECD report, observing that "freshwater abstraction is high due to irrigation and leakage."
"It is true that leakage in Greece is quite common, and that most of the freshwater we have goes to irrigation," admitted Simos Malamis, assistant professor at the Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA).
"There are efforts made in various areas of the country with leakage monitoring system," he told Xinhua.
Malamis leads in part of the water management efforts, as he runs an NTUA-backed project named "Hydrousa" that processes wastewater into water for irrigation. "This allows us to save on freshwater that would have gone to irrigation," he explained.
The OECD went on to call for the adjustment of the price of water to match conditions. "Ensuring that prices cover the cost of supply and reflect scarcity, along with improving agri-environmental measures' effectiveness, will support sustainable water management," argued the report.
"Indeed, the price of water in Greece does not reflect the true cost of processing and carriage in the network, especially in parts of the country other than Athens, such as several islands; however what is required is efficient management of resources and networks instead of burdening consumers with the cost of the management errors made," commented Malamis. Enditem