Fighting climate change crucial for Cyprus

In the Decem­ber 2009 Euro­pean Coun­cil that pre­ced­ed the cli­mate con­fer­ence in Copen­hagen, Pres­i­dent Christofias and the major­i­ty of Cypri­ot polit­i­cal class­es wel­comed the EU lead­ers’ deci­sion to assist devel­op­ing coun­tries finan­cial­ly to meet their emis­sion tar­gets.11Press Reports, Decem­ber 2009. Cyprus’ con­tri­bu­tion to the EU fund is about 600,000 Euros per year, a prospect that was over­all wel­comed by both polit­i­cal par­ties and civ­il soci­ety. How­ev­er, they all insist­ed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly on the issue’s glob­al aspects, under­lin­ing that, besides the EU, oth­er devel­oped coun­tries, and pri­mar­i­ly the USA and Japan, should also con­tribute to the glob­al efforts for pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment.22Ibid.

That is why the Copen­hagen Accord reached between the USA, Chi­na, India, Brazil and South Africa was received with great dis­ap­point­ment among Cypri­ot deci­sion mak­ers.33Ibid. In Nicosia, polit­i­cal par­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives expressed their frus­tra­tion at the lack of deci­sive­ness by the larg­er actors involved to achieve a legal­ly bind­ing agree­ment. In var­i­ous state­ments, mem­bers of the Cypri­ot par­lia­ment told reporters that the UN-led Copen­hagen cli­mate sum­mit was “a dis­as­ter” and a “great fail­ure”: where­as the EU attend­ed the sum­mit in hopes of reach­ing an agree­ment for the reduc­tion of CO2 lev­els with­in the next ten years, this and oth­er tar­gets were not includ­ed in the agree­ment that was mere­ly “recog­nised” by the 193 nations attend­ing the sum­mit.44Ibid. Cypri­ot polit­i­cal fig­ures and ecol­o­gists also crit­i­cised the absence of any penal­ties from the deal for coun­tries that fail to meet their promises.

Turn­ing to the EU’s ener­gy and cli­mate pol­i­cy, high praise was being uttered, espe­cial­ly regard­ing the Union’s tar­gets and its ini­tia­tives towards assist­ing devel­op­ing coun­tries to meet their emis­sion goals. Offi­cials at the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Nat­ur­al Resources and the Envi­ron­ment con­veyed to us that Brus­sels’ role as a leader in the fight against cli­mate change should be reaf­firmed with stronger rep­re­sen­ta­tions towards oth­er devel­oped coun­tries and addi­tion­al pres­sure for legal­ly bind­ing agree­ments which should be imple­ment­ed world­wide.55Inter­views con­duct­ed by Nico­le­ta Athanasi­adou, Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Nat­ur­al Resources and the Envi­ron­ment, Nicosia, ear­ly June 2010.

Offi­cials accen­tu­at­ed the need for a glob­al agree­ment, ide­al­ly ini­ti­at­ed by the EU, which could assume a lead­ing role inter­na­tion­al­ly in action against cli­mate change.66Ibid. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, they com­ment­ed, one coun­try or region can­not deal with envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tion by itself. Man­i­fest­ly, col­lec­tive mea­sures and glob­al ini­tia­tives are essen­tial. The cur­rent glob­al finan­cial cri­sis caus­es fur­ther dam­age to the envi­ron­ment due to the inten­sive exploita­tion of resources. On the oth­er hand, it is evi­dent that ener­gy secu­ri­ty and invest­ment in renew­able ener­gy sources will lead to low­er eco­nom­ic and envi­ron­men­tal costs and to a devel­op­men­tal boost for all nations. Accord­ing to our KIMEDE col­leagues, here is a glo­ri­ous oppor­tu­ni­ty for the EU to fur­ther strength­en its glob­al “nor­ma­tive” sta­tus and role.

As Pres­i­dent Christofias remarked, any ini­tia­tives that address cli­mate change “will take human­i­ty out of inten­sive care”.77State­ments by Pres­i­dent Demetris Christofias, Lar­naca, 17/12/2009 (as report­ed by the Cyprus News Agency). Cyprus, a coun­try affect­ed by cli­mate change, is will­ing to con­tribute to the EU tar­gets to the best of its abil­i­ties. Already, the Cypri­ot gov­ern­ment looks into addi­tion­al renew­able ener­gy sources, util­is­ing wave, riv­er and hydro­elec­tric pow­er from small water dams, as well as exploit­ing solar and wind ener­gy. The direc­tor of ener­gy ser­vices at the Min­istry of Com­merce, Solon Kassi­nis, proud­ly revealed that Cyprus will reach 8 per­cent of ener­gy pro­duc­tion from renew­able ener­gy sources in 2010, while the tar­get set by the EU is 13 per­cent by 2020.88State­ments by Dr Solon Kassi­nis, Nicosia, as report­ed by CyBC TV main evening news, 7/03/2010.

In addi­tion, as Cypri­ot Min­is­ter of Inte­ri­or, Neok­lis Siliki­o­tis, point­ed out, it is cru­cial that Cyprus invests in inno­v­a­tive, eco-friend­ly research that will lead to sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.99State­ments by the Min­is­ter of Inte­ri­or, Neok­lis Siliki­o­tis, Nicosia, 23/06/2010 (as report­ed by all Cypri­ot Media). A fine exam­ple is a sophis­ti­cat­ed research method aimed at pro­duc­ing desali­nat­ed water and “co-gen­er­at­ing” elec­tric­i­ty using solar pow­er, a project cur­rent­ly planned by the appro­pri­ate author­i­ties. Sci­en­tists tak­ing part in this EU co-fund­ed project, which also involves the Cyprus Insti­tute, the Cyprus Elec­tric­i­ty Author­i­ty and Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties, will test the evi­dence of lab results with the goal of secur­ing the 20-year via­bil­i­ty of this new method. The exper­i­ment will take three years to com­plete and could prove salu­tary for the entire Mediter­ranean region. Described as one of the most inno­v­a­tive renew­able ener­gy projects in Europe, it will report­ed­ly put Cyprus firm­ly on the inter­na­tion­al map of research and innovation.

    Footnotes

  • 1Press Reports, Decem­ber 2009.
  • 2Ibid.
  • 3Ibid.
  • 4Ibid.
  • 5Inter­views con­duct­ed by Nico­le­ta Athanasi­adou, Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Nat­ur­al Resources and the Envi­ron­ment, Nicosia, ear­ly June 2010.
  • 6Ibid.
  • 7State­ments by Pres­i­dent Demetris Christofias, Lar­naca, 17/12/2009 (as report­ed by the Cyprus News Agency).
  • 8State­ments by Dr Solon Kassi­nis, Nicosia, as report­ed by CyBC TV main evening news, 7/03/2010.
  • 9State­ments by the Min­is­ter of Inte­ri­or, Neok­lis Siliki­o­tis, Nicosia, 23/06/2010 (as report­ed by all Cypri­ot Media).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.