Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at the COP28 Summit in Dubai, presented the second island to join the GR-eco islands programme, Poros, in cooperation with the state-owned green energy company Masdar of the United Arab Emirates.
“I am a big believer in the Gr-eco Islands Project for the simple reason that it is easier to decarbonize and push towards a sustainable future, a small island than it is, for example, a big city”, the Prime Minister stated during the event. “We’re particularly happy that we will be signing today this agreement between the Greek government and Masdar, a global leader in renewable energy”, added Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“In terms of implementing some of these ideas on the island of Poros, as you saw this is an island relatively close to Athens, but it is particularly important for our purpose because the ferry connection between Poros and the mainland is relatively short. It is much easier to electrify short ferry trips than it is to electrify larger trips. Of course, it is also an island that is a yachting destination, which means that ideas regarding cold ironing, how do we transform port infrastructure into having a clear green footprint can also be tested”, said the Prime Minister.
“These examples are particularly important, not just because they highlight the impact that technology can have on making these islands reaching their climate neutrality targets before the rest of the country. They’re important because what we have succeeded in doing is also to bring the local communities on board and make them understand that the green transition is actually a tremendous opportunity for them”, he underlined.
The event was also attended by the President of COP28, Sultan Al Jaber, who stressed in his address: “It is indeed with great honour and pleasure that I accept this invitation and I join you in this very important milestone in the relationship and the broader relationship between the UAE and Greece, as well as the very important and relevant relationship and partnership we have established between Masdar and many relevant stakeholders in Greece. Greece continues to be a very important and a strategic partner to the UAE, and it continues to be an important and an interesting and beneficial investment destination for Masdar and many other relevant investment institutions in the UAE”.
The plan to transform Poros into a green island, following the example of Halki, is based on four pillars. First, the installation of a photovoltaic plant and the upgrading of the grid to cover a significant part of the island’s annual energy needs. Second, the electrification of the ferry link between Poros and Galata on the mainland, which will involve the deployment of a fully electric ferry, the electrification of part of the existing passenger fleet and the installation of charging infrastructure in the two ports. Thirdly, to stimulate electrification in public transport and for private transport and travel. And fourthly, the development of a new waste management and recycling system.
Earlier, the Prime Minister participated in a discussion with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and former Secretary of State John Kerry, at an event for the 9th “Our Ocean Conference”, which will be hosted by Greece in 2024, on April 16 and 17.
Referring to the importance of protecting the seas and the blue economy for Greece, the Prime Minister stated: “Well, we are a blue country. We have 170 inhabited islands and a multiple of that who are uninhabited. We have 14,000 kilometres of coastline and we feel we have an additional obligation to protect our marine diversity. At the same time, we’re also the leading global shipping power in the world, controlling almost 25% of the global shipping fleet. The whole question of decarbonising shipping is very, very close to our heart.
I want our ship owners and our ship operators to take the lead in terms of adopting the new technologies that will contribute towards decarbonising a sector which by definition is difficult to decarbonise. We have many reasons to be hosting this conference in Greece. I’m very excited to be able to welcome you all”.
“Are there other solutions using technology and AI that can help us? For example, there was a Greek startup called DeepSea, which was just sold to a big Japanese company. What they do is use big data analytics tracking the existing ships in order to optimise routes and engine management. And that by itself can cut CO2 emissions by almost 10%”, he added.
On issues that Greece will raise at the 9th “Our Ocean Conference”, which the country will organise, the Prime Minister spoke about the protection of marine areas, security and the link between the preservation of ecosystems and sustainable economic activity.
“The overall concept of what does it mean to have a blue economy and a sustainable tourism industry that depends on protecting our marine biodiversity? How can these two be connected? I always find it fascinating when I see, for example, our fishermen take on visitors and have an additional source of income and take them for traditional fishing. Suddenly you realise you’re doing something which is sustainable, but you also give fishermen an additional supplemental income and offering our visitors a unique experience, which at the end of the day, needs to be connected to the sustainability of our economy”, said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also had the opportunity to inaugurate the Greek Pavilion at COP28.
“We can come to the COP holding our head high and being proud about what we have done in terms of reducing our CO₂ emissions. At the same time, we have launched a series of very interesting initiatives which highlight various aspects of this complicated decarbonizing effort. There will be events. One is going to take place today about what we call the Greco Island project, which is essentially a collection of very interesting projects of how you can make your islands climate neutral”, noted the Prime Minister during the inauguration of the Greek Pavilion.