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Climate Change Dominates US Envoy John Kerry’s Visit to Greece

John Kerry climate
The climate crisis was the focus of the talks between John Kerry and Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on Monday. Credit: PM press office

The challenges posed by climate change and ways to strengthen cooperation between Greece and the United States in dealing with the climate crisis and achieving the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050 were the main focus of the meeting in Athens on Monday between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

“It is a great privilege that we are in a position to have a discussion with you on the global challenges that we face in energy, biodiversity and climate change,” Mitsotakis said as he received Kerry, emphasizing that Greece is dedicated to the specific agenda and highlighting the progress made in the last three years.

“I would especially point to the rapid penetration of renewable energy sources in our energy mix,” he added. “We intend to add two GW of renewable energy sources in 2022 alone and this puts us at the forefront in Europe in this regard.”

“Our Ocean” conference promoted by Kerry to be held in Greece

The talks with Kerry also focused on the preparations for holding the “Our Ocean Conference” in Greece in 2024.

“Of course, our agenda as regards the climate is very broad. We are particularly interested in the issue of protecting our marine ecosystems and we are very happy that we have the opportunity to organize the ‘Our Ocean Conference’ in 2024…I am certain that it will be a very successful Conference,” the PM said. “It will also be an opportunity for us to stress the great importance we attach to the protection of the very fragile marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean. I have a huge interest in this particular issue.”

Referring to the importance of the “Our Ocean Conference,” Kerry said the U.S. side was very excited that Greece was organizing the conference in 2024 while highlighting the link between the oceans and the climate crisis.

“Many people are not aware of this connection…no one can solve the problem of the climate crisis without taking into account what is happening in the oceans,” Kerry added. “And vice-versa. No one can solve the problems linked to the oceans without paying proper attention to the climate crisis, because acidity levels in the oceans are changing dramatically.”

Kerry: We are together with Greece on climate

With ninety percent of warming absorbed by the oceans, this had a huge impact on phenomena such as flooding and the intensity of storms and weather conditions, Kerry pointed out, adding that:

We are together in this. The fact that Greece, with its amazing shipping and maritime history, is taking over after Panama is an absolutely logical choice. Therefore, this is a great step.

The “Our Ocean Conference” was first established in 2014 when Kerry was U.S. Secretary of State and has already mobilized more than 1,800 pledges worth in excess of 108 billion dollars in areas such as climate change, sustainable fisheries, the blue economy, and protecting marine areas among others.

Mitsotakis briefed Kerry on Greek initiatives for a green transition to decrease carbon emissions, especially in shipping, ahead of the COP27 in Egypt in November.

Kerry pointed out Greece’s important position relative to the rest of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Egypt, noting that it was critically located for the transfer of electric power and the energy transformation that must be accelerated. Kerry said he looked forward to discovering new ways to cooperate.

The two sides also stressed the priority placed on ambitious but feasible solutions for an energy transition in the shipping sector.

Mitsotakis hailed U.S. initiatives for reducing the energy footprint of shipping and expressed hope that they will help in the rapid adoption of global measures. The important role in this effort of the Greek-owned fleet was highlighted.

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