Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ address at the plenary session of the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28)

Thank you. Excellencies, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

The evidence of the climate crisis has never been clearer. Equally, the benefits of a faster transition to a net-zero economy have never been more obvious. Greece embodies this economy probably better than many countries. In just a few weeks, we experienced forest fires that burned over 1% of our landmass and rains that brought more water in a single day than most places receive in a year, causing unprecedented floods. And yet alongside this climate devastation, a new Greece is emerging.

We have cut our coal use by over 80%. We are growing our economy at a much faster pace than the eurozone average while reducing emissions. In total, our emissions are down by 43% from 2005 as we turn increasingly to renewable energy. This is one of the best performances of any European country. Last year, our penetration of wind and solar was the seventh highest in the world, and our installed capacity was the fifth highest on a per capita basis. The wind and sun now generate over half of our electricity and they shield us from the energy crisis that Russia caused when it invaded Ukraine. The environmental, economic, but also geopolitical benefits of a rapid transition to renewable energy have never been more obvious.

We are renovating our homes and our offices at an unprecedented rate. We are building a carbon capture and storage value chain for our heavy industry. Our islands are laboratories of cutting-edge sustainability practises.

As a world leader in maritime transportation, we take very seriously the responsibility of decarbonizing shipping as long as we preserve our competitiveness and ensure a global level playing field. We will soon harness one of our greatest untapped potential, offshore wind, and in particular the winds of the Aegean Sea, an energy source that will literally redraw the energy map of the region.

Our investments in energy come alongside our focus on resilience. Our early warning system, the “112” number, has proven to be a lifesaver. One message can literally mean the difference between life and death. We need more such cost-effective and scalable technologies.

Our societies are not prepared for the climate crisis that is already with us. We must devote more resources to resilience. The adaptation gap is as important as the emissions gaps, and Europe has an important role to play in that direction. As we build the future, we cannot forget the past. We must ensure a just transition for the communities that got us here.

We have a responsibility to our shared cultural heritage to protect endangered monuments from the wrath of climate change. In doing so, I firmly believe that we will discover ancient wisdom, how to build growth and thrive in harmony with nature. This wisdom will come from every corner of the earth. We have so much to learn from one another and from our ancestors. This challenge is as much about artificial intelligence as it is about ancestral intelligence.

Dear colleagues, our challenge is immense, but we cannot minimise the progress that we have made. Let us instead draw strength from it as we step into the next and most important part of our common journey together.

Thank you very much.