National and regional story (Greece) - Environmental Policies for Green Growth
The principle of Green Growth, in which the environment is treated as a growth resource, is central to the mission of the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change. Green Growth aims at reconstruction of the country's production base, balanced regional development and job creation through investment in education, knowledge, innovation and new technologies. In order for Green Growth to proceed effectively, the Ministry has embarked on a series of interventions in 2010, including the enactment of laws concerning forests damaged by fire, recycling and renewable energy sources (RES) and digital identification of buildings, and is now moving ahead rapidly with the implementation of a programme of growth interventions consisting of a set of clearly defined policies and actions.
The main features of the growth intervention programme are explained below.
- Attracting and affecting growth investments with a total budget of EUR 44.4 billion up to 2015.
- Creation of more than 210 000 jobs, of which 27 000 will provide permanent employment.
- Bolstering of economic activity in some of the most important branches of the Greek economy, such as construction, installations and equipment production, financial services, other services and studies of all kinds, as well as strengthening of the communications sector.
- Transfer of important know-how through the creation of new branches, new specialisations and new products.
- Optimal utilisation of the country's specialist manpower and parallel upgrading of existing skills in a manner which secures competitive status in the global context.
- Curbing the rise of unemployment in a period when employment growth is a dominant government concern. Along with this will come important financial gains through the reduction of expenditure on unemployment benefits and employment incentives, growth in contributions to insurance bodies and strengthening of demand through the creation of new income.
This programme will exploit the private sector dynamic to the full in pursuit of its objectives.
The main pillars of the growth intervention programme are described below.
1. Combating climate change by moving to a competitive economy with low carbon consumption. This pillar encompasses a series of policies which focus on improving energy efficiency 1a); increasing the country's energy capacity through use of RES and natural gas (1b); safeguarding energy supply (1c); providing consumers with reliable energy products and services (1d); and promoting environment-friendly production and consumption standards through ‘Green Procurement’ (1e). The overall budget of the investments included under this pillar is EUR 31.8 billion, and it is expected that more than 169 000 jobs will be created. Details of the actions per sector are given below.
1a) Improving energy efficiency through the formation and mobilisation of investments in energy-saving programmes and new technologies, in order to reduce energy demand.
1b) Devising actions to promote the use of RES through statutory facilitations (e.g. simplification of licensing, removal of disincentives) aimed at the mobilisation of growth investment and the execution of technical projects for the installation of RES systems, and to expand the use of natural gas, chiefly through the development of natural gas transfer, distribution and storage infrastructure.
1c) The policy to safeguard energy supply consists of a set of investment actions aimed chiefly at the development of infrastructure and networks for energy production, transfer and distribution.
1d) A programme to replace 7.5 million low-voltage meters throughout the country with ‘smart’ meters, which will, among other things, facilitate correct and more timely billing of electricity consumers, provide better information to consumers about their energy consumption and make it possible for consumers to change their electricity supplier when they wish.
1e) The Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change is beginning a ‘Green Procurement’ pilot programme through its own expenditure for materials of such kinds, for which environmental criteria will also be taken into account. This endeavour of the Ministry will be evaluated and the policy will then be applied for the entire public sector.
2. Sustainable management and protection of natural resources. This pillar brings together actions centred on the protection and enhancement of biodiversity (2a); the management and protection of water resources (2b) and forests (2c); as well as on planning for timely combating of environmental dangers and crises (2d). The success of these actions will come through growth investment in technical projects and in projects to provide optimal utilisation of natural resources, as well as in restoration of the physical environment. The overall budget for the investments included under this pillar is EUR 2.3 billion, and it is expected that more than 11 000 jobs will be created. Details of the actions per sector are given below.
2a) Physical environment restoration and protection projects and preparation of specialised studies and management plans for the protection of flora, fauna and habitats.
2b) Upgrading of the competent services, modernisation of the statutory framework control mechanisms, actions to mobilise investment and to implement projects, as well as the preparation of studies related to water resources and water supply management and protection, including desalination projects and efforts to reduce losses of potable water.
2c) Actions to mobilise investment for the improvement of forestry sector competitiveness by increasing the value of forestry products and the creation of forest recreational facilities, at a total cost of EUR 138 million. Additionally, important steps are being taken to protect the forests and to increase forestry capacity through the creation of forest protection systems (e.g. anti-fire zones, reservoirs for fire extinguishing, systems for prompt tracking of fires), improvement and maintenance of the forestry network and afforestation actions, with investment totalling EUR 465 million.
2d) Measures to prevent environmental disasters and avert hazards, and to repair damage, as well as planning actions and actions to prepare for dealing with environmental crises.
3. Enhancement of the quality of life, with respect for the environment. The actions of the third pillar focus on enhancement of the quality of life of citizens through the promotion of sustainable development and the enshrinement of productive and social cohesion, with parallel safeguarding of protection of the environment. The pillar includes a number of major urban regeneration interventions in the capital and the regions (3a). Also included are major actions to improve the urban environment, such as noise and pollution reduction (3b), and to develop sustainable mobility (3c). The promotion of substantial investment in waste recycling and management (3d). The overall budget of the investments included under this pillar is EUR 9.5 billion, and it is expected that about 27 000 jobs will be created. Details of the actions per sector are given below.
3a) Execution of a series of urban renovation projects to improve and beautify urban areas in the capital and the rest of Greece.
3b) Actions to monitor and evaluate existing noise and pollution levels.
3c) One of the key axes of sustainable mobility is the improvement of public transport. In this context, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change is implementing a programme of investments for development of the Attica Metro through the creation of new stations and creation of the Thessaloniki Metro, as means of transport which reduce pollutant emissions and improve the quality of life, facilitate mass movement with low levels of pollution and reduce city traffic congestion.
3d) Development of infrastructures for the management of solid and liquid waste (e.g. processing and recycling centres and wastewater treatment plants).
4. Strengthening of environmental governance mechanisms and institutions. The fourth pillar of the programme seeks to strengthen environmental governance through a batch of actions in which the main elements are strengthening of the bodies and mechanisms of environmental governance, with institutional interventions and investments to strengthen the financial and human resources of the institutions. In parallel, the voluntary sector will be bolstered through information and awareness-raising actions, as well as through the organisation of financial assistance for volunteer actions. The overall budget of the investments included under this pillar is EUR 846.7 million, and it is expected that more than 2 400 jobs will be created. Some of the envisaged actions are described below.
4a) In the sphere of land use and spatial planning, the Ministry has included an action with a budget of EUR 10 million which deals with the monitoring, evaluation and elaboration of the 12 regional framework spatial plans and of the national land-use frameworks. The operations which are to be executed in the framework of the Digital Convergence Operational Programme for the National Land Registry (EUR 409.45 million) are also included as a supplement to the above-mentioned action because of the positive impact that they will have on spatial planning possibilities and in other fields related to ownership, such as certainty of title and tax-yielding capability, etc.
4b) The development of environmental legislation includes simplification and modernisation, as well as the preparation of specifications for environmental impact assessments and updating and modernisation of strategic studies, plans and programmes concerned with environmental impacts. Through INSPIRE, the Ministry is creating a single infrastructure for spatial information which will be accessible to all of the country's citizens and institutions. In addition, a National Action Plan for ’Green Procurement’ is being adopted in order to place an effective limit on the environmental effects of procurement actions by the state sector through Green Public Contracts (GPC).
4c) Environmental awareness and information actions to promote the aims of Green Growth and of environmental policy in the wider context among the general public.
4d) Pilot programmes with the aim of raising awareness on environmental subjects and mobilising volunteers. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change provides financial assistance to NGOs for the execution of environment-friendly actions in the framework of the effort to protect the environment.