Greece committed to becoming a clean energy leader on Earth Day at the Leaders Summit on Climate, pledging to eliminate coal three years earlier than planned by 2025, showing promise of a greener future with greater economic efficiency.
US President Joe Biden invited 40 countries to attend the virtual, live-streamed summit after taking action to return the United States to the Paris Agreement his first day in office. The Leaders Summit on Climate is a precursor to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow, a US White House statement said.
The purpose of the summit was to “galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis,” according to summit organizers.
Climate Initiatives are Creating More Jobs
Limiting planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is the benchmark global temperature scientists advise in order to prevent the harsh negative impacts of climate change.
Both The Leaders Summit on Climate and the COP26 agendas aim to keep the 1.5-degree goal in reach while also highlighting ways to escalate climate initiatives by creating jobs, new technologies and adaptation techniques for countries that are the most vulnerable to climate impacts.
“As we take concrete actions to reduce emissions and prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to create sustainable, good paying jobs to promote not only greater growth, but greater equity and to provide sustainable, reliable, affordable access to energy to more people, which is crucial to every aspect of human development,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in his opening address.
Greece was one of the first countries to support the EU’s amendment of its 2030 Energy Strategy in order to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to emission levels in 2005. In contribution to this initiative, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised Greece’s retirement of all coal-fired power plants sooner than originally planned.
Natural gas can act as a “bridge” fuel while companies transition into producing renewable energy, according to a statement by the US Embassy and Consulate in Greece.
The Public Power Corp (PPC), Greece’s largest energy company, has already announced its departure from coal largely as a result of economic losses. However, after losing one billion euros per year, the plant made the switch to fossil fuels, EURACTIV reported, a solution that received widespread backlash from clean energy campaigners.
Renewable Energy Market Projected for Growth
“It is important that Greece transitions from coal to renewable energy, and not other fossil fuels,” stated Mahi Sideridou, Managing Director of the Europe Beyond Coal campaign.
The global renewable energy market is projected to grow to $2.15 trillion by 2025. Meanwhile, solar and wind technicians are among the fastest growing jobs in America and Greece.
“We commend Greek companies like Sunlight, one of the world’s top manufacturers of industrial and advanced technology batteries, and Raycap, which provides surge protection equipment for electricity grids and critical wind power infrastructure, for expanding their businesses to the United States,” wrote US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt and Greek Minister of the Environment and Energy Kostas Skrekas in a statement.
“Terna Energy’s wind park investments in Texas are another example of how our bilateral trade and investment benefits our economies and the planet.”
World leaders and scientists agree that a global, calculated effort is necessary in stopping the negative impacts of climate change. According to Dimitris Tsekeris of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Greece, in order to reach climate neutrality, “we need to move into more ambitious strategy to face and stop the world climate crisis.”