Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (“Our common Future”, World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).
The idea of sustainable development was formed as an effort to combine economic growth and the protection of social and environmental balances. The concept of sustainability stems from the environmental sector and refers to the rational management of ecosystems.
The school of sustainable development has a long-term view and captures the dynamics of ecosystems, since it does not reject in advance the possibility of their harmonization with anthropogenic systems, eg. the coexistence of natural and cultural evolution. Rational management of natural resources in order to meet human needs, both now and in the future, is the foundation of sustainable development.
The concept of sustainability is constitutionally recognized with the 2001 revision of Article 24 (Environmental Protection) of the Greek Constitution, and is included as a goal of the European Union in the EU Treaty, as revised by the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 (Article 3 par.3).
In 2015, the United Nations Agenda 2030 was adopted, which sets 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is the new global framework for Sustainable Development.
Climate change is undoubtedly the most important environmental issue globally, with serious consequences for ecosystems and most areas of human life and activity, which are expected to intensify in the coming years.
Recognizing the role of increased greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic activities in the observed rise in temperature, international action to mitigate climate change has intensified over the past two decades.
Yet, even if emission reduction efforts are successful, due to the long life of greenhouse gases, climate change is to some extent inevitable. Thus, additional action is required in order to adapt to climate change. Adaptation includes assessing the effects of expected climate change and taking appropriate action, nationally and internationally, to prevent or reduce their severity.
The Mediterranean region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, due to the expected further deterioration of climatic conditions, which are already characterized by high temperatures and drought. In combination with the change of the “average” climate, the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme phenomena is expected to have significant effects on human health, ecosystems and key sectors of the economy, such as agriculture and tourism.
In this context, it is important to monitor and evaluate greenhouse gas emissions, changing climatic parameters and related extreme phenomena. Similarly, a key role is played by recording and analyzing policies and measures aimed at mitigating climate change, as well as adaptation actions geared towards its effects.
State of the Environment
In terms of climate change mitigation in Greece, in 2016 (most recent data) the decrease of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) continued both due to the gradual transition of the energy system to a lower-emission system and due to the reduced activity because of the economic crisis. In particular, total GHG were reduced by 3,703 kt CO2 compared to 2015 (the 4th largest decrease in the EU after the UK, Spain and Italy, based on EEA data).
For the post-2020 period, an immediate and ambitious targeting by the state will help to achieve more pronounced reductions through appropriate investments to transform the energy system. To this end, the national plan for energy and climate is currently under development for 2030 and beyond, until 2050. The target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for 2030 is expected to be combined with targets for energy saving and renewable development sources of energy, within the framework of the European institutional and legal framework.
With the completion of certain forthcoming projects, such as the interconnection of the islands to the electrical grid of the mainland that will result in the decommissioning of the oil stations in the disconnected islands, in combination with the decrease of the lignite power plants, the reduction is expected to be even stronger. The new special fund for Greece, created in the review of the ETS Directive (that corresponds to the revenues from 25 million allowances for the period 2021-2030) will greatly contribute to that direction.