Former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is taking over the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection of Greece, after several parts of the country were ravaged by wildfires.
Following his plea for a wide political consensus on climate change, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis established the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection and appointed Christos Stylianides to run it. The Balkan state got its first high-ranking government department that will make plans with regard to climate change and tackle its consequences.
The move follows some of the worst wildfires in the history of the country and the prime minister’s apology for an insufficient response. Former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is from Cyprus, but he will be awarded Greek citizenship.
Prevention, preparedness are best weapon against climate change
“The consequences of climate change got the lead ahead of us and we must accelerate major change without delay. Prevention and preparedness for natural disasters are the most effective weapon we have,” he said. Stylianides was the Cypriot government’s spokesperson before he became a European commissioner.
The cabinet in Athens said he is perhaps the most capable European politician for the post. Stylianides has experience, international prestige and good connections, according to the government.
Earlier, Prime Minister Mitsotakis told members of the Hellenic Parliament that almost 1,300 fires were registered in the first days of August. The island of Evia or Euboea, the Peloponnese and Attica, where Athens is located, were the most affected as Greece experienced a historic heatwave.
“Dealing with the climate crisis requires us to change everything: production, movement, construction,” he stressed, adding all the burnt areas are declared reforestable, in line with the constitution. Mitsotakis expressed hope in achieving a cross-party agreement on the country’s first climate change law.
Mitsotakis has denied rumors that forests were destroyed to clear the ground for wind power plants
Due to widespread rumors that forests were burned to clear the ground for wind power plants, the prime minister compared them with the conspiracy theories spread by anti-vaxxers. He acknowledged many of the fires were arsons. Mitsotakis promised the government would invest in aircraft that would battle the next blazes and pointed to the need for more real estate insurance against natural disasters.
Italy introduced its Ministry for Ecological Transition in February.