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Climate Crisis Tops Agenda of Mediterranean Leaders Meeting in Athens

Climate crisis Mediterranean Summit
Leaders from the Mediterranean basin are meeting on Friday in Athens. Credit: AMNA

The climate crisis will top of the agenda of the summit of Mediterranean and Southern European Union member states (EUMed 9), which is being held in Athens on Friday.

The EU Med or EuroMed 7, initially an alliance of Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, will also include Slovenia and Croatia at today’s summit.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva will participate in the summit, to be held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Centre (SNFCC).

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also participate.

Climate crisis in the Mediterranean summit

According to Kathimerini, which has seen the draft communique of the summit, on climate change it refers to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as well as the commitment of leaders to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis is keen to highlight the impact of climate change. Following August’s catastrophic wildfires in Greece, Mitsotakis said: “The climate crisis is here and is showing us that everything must change. The facts demand bold solutions for which I am ready.

“We have an obligation to build a future of justice, where people and nature will coexist in harmony and fruitfulness. A future in which the coming generations will look back with pride at all that we have accomplished. It is a fight that will certainly be difficult but one which we do not, however, have the right to lose,” Mitsotakis said in an op-ed article published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Friday.

Mitsotakis proposed action to protect the environment from the threat of the climate crisis and raised the alarm about the future. Under the headline “What will future generations think of us?” he wrote about the disasters being experienced throughout the world as a result of the climate crisis and the need to act promptly, adding that the EU Med summit is called upon to propose solutions that will not only concern future historians but also the current and future generations.

“This is something confirmed by the experience from this year’s summer in the Mediterranean and Europe, which were tested simultaneously by fires and flooding,” the Prime Minister said.

Mitsotakis proposed an alignment of public and private investments in the direction of adapting to climate change and achieving climate neutrality, speeding up infrastructure free of carbon emissions and highlighted the need to restore the environmental damage from floods and fires to preserve biodiversity, as well as to exchange experiences and technologies.

A recent report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned that the Mediterranean is turning into a tropical sea due to rising global temperature.

The study found that with temperatures rising 20 percent faster than the global average and sea levels also rising — they are projected to have risen one meter by 2100 — the Mediterranean is becoming the saltiest and fastest-warming sea on the planet.

“Urgent action is needed to further mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the new reality of a warming sea,” the WWF said.

Migration and security challenges also in the agenda of summit

According to Greek government sources other items on the agenda will include the security challenges in the Mediterranean that endanger stability in the region, and potential new crises, such as the threat of migration influx after the latest developments in Afghanistan.

Greece, as the host nation of the summit, is keen to include Turkey’s provocations in the eastern Mediterranean in the final communique. Kathimerini says that the draft text includes the following paragraph: “We call on all countries in the region to respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the EU member states in their maritime zones in accordance with international law, including the law of the sea.”

The draft also calls on Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to participate in a dialogue on the delimitation of maritime zones, leaving open the issue of appealing to the International Court of Justice.

Before the summit, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at the Maximos Mansion at 12:00 noon, while at 2:15 he will meet Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the SNFCC. The EUMED 9 summit meeting will begin at 5:00. The leaders will make statements to the press at 7:40 and at 8:30 PM they will attend a dinner.

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