Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday said he wants to preserve good relations with London, following a cancellation of his meeting with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak amid a dispute over the Parthenon Sculptures.
“I certainly want to leave this unfortunate incident behind me, but it always takes two to tango,” Mitsotakis said.
“In the spirit of longstanding good relations our two countries have, which I surely intend to preserve, I don’t have much to add,” he said.
Regarding COP28, Mitsotakis said it was an important summit where there will be an evaluation of the situation, while noting that there was “justifiable concern” over the course the world is taking and the “gap” between nationally determined contributions “and where we need to get to”.
Coming from a country that experienced the disastrous repercussions of climate change during the summer, Mitsotakis said, he could only encourage all sides to be more ambitious in setting their targets.
He reported that Greece was “doing its share” and had managed to reduce emissions by 43% since 2005, one of the fastest reductions of greenhouse gas emissions among European countries.
Greece continued to be fully dedicated to achieving its targets for mitigating the climate crisis, he added, “but we obviously cannot do it alone.”
Highlighting the need for long-term and medium-term goals, he said that decarbonisation of energy was the obvious route for increasing the penetration of renewable energy sources, while saying that Greece was among the top 10 producers of renewable energy globally.
At the same time, he noted that Greece needs more investments in its networks so that renewables can operate more efficiently, making this the top priority, and would then work on energy conservation and increasing energy efficiency in buildings.
Mitsotakis also replied to questions about the results of the Dutch elections and whether these changed the commitments for a green transition, stressing that “we are committed to the ‘Fit for 55’ agenda”.
At the same time, he added, it was important to listen to the citizens and realise that poorer households cannot be burdened further. He called for a different fiscal approach, where the revenue from growth was used to support more vulnerable households, as well as action to ensure that many people had tangible benefits from the green transition.
Among others, he noted that it was possible to lead a moderate, centre-right government such as that in Greece and have a comfortable majority, if it provided benefits to the citizens.
Mitsotakis confirmed that Greece intends to become an exporter of green energy, alongside continuing exploration for natural gas and covering the fuel needs of its neighbouring countries and Europe.
The Greek premier concluded by saying that the leaders at COP have to be more ambitious, adding: “What we are doing is not enough, we are paying the consequences and we must send a message of urgency from this summit.”
He call for production of energy using methane in the short-term and funding for climate change action for those that need it most.