New Minister of the Environment and Energy of Greece Kostas Skrekas took over the post from Kostis Hatzidakis. In the past year and a half, the energy sector has been reformed, particularly in the areas of decarbonization and market liberalization. While the ruling New Democracy party was in opposition, Skrekas was the chief of its environment and energy committee.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reshuffled his cabinet and appointed Minister Kostis Hatzidakis to run the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Greece. Kostas Skrekas was named as his successor at the Ministry of the Environment and Energy, after serving as deputy minister of rural development and food.
“In the dilemma between the environment and development, I will say development and environment, because this is the only way we can ensure that we will have strong, long-term development. By protecting the environment we can create conditions for the development of the segments such as industry, tourism, the primary sector,” Skrekas said at the handover ceremony.
Environmental protection and energy are not mutually exclusive, according to the new minister
The new minister has a master’s degree in construction management from the University of Birmingham. He has been a member of the Hellenic Parliament since 2012. Skrekas has experience in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.
He was the minister for development and competitiveness from November 2014 to January 2015. After that, while his New Democracy party was in opposition, Skrekas headed its environment and energy committee. Giorgos Amyras has just been appointed as his deputy minister in charge of environmental protection.
Skrekas inherits impressive legacy from predecessor
Hatzidakis said the crown of his work of 18 months as the minister of the environment and energy was salvaging and upgrading state-owned electricity producer Public Power Corp. and making it the main driver of development and in attracting investments. In his words, serious reforms were aimed at sustainable development, and the modernization in environmental and spatial planning made government policies green.
Hatzidakis: The just transition from coal will be funded with EUR 5 billion and proposed investments are worth over EUR 3.5 billion
“We made significant progress in modernizing and liberalizing the energy market… We made the historic commitment to decarbonize the country by 2023,” Hatzidakis stressed. He added the master plan for the just transition of the coal areas in Western Macedonia and Megalopolis would be funded with EUR 5 billion from national and European resources and that proposed investments surpassed EUR 3.5 billion.
Expansion in energy efficiency of homes, electric car market
Environmental licensing will take between 100 to 150 days, compared with six to eight years before, the minister said. The applications in the electric vehicle subsidy program surpassed in just four months the equivalent sales of the previous four years, he noted. The government launched a EUR 900 million scheme for energy rehabilitation of homes.
Greece is rolling out a ban on single use plastics this year
Hatzidakis highlighted the installation of the world’s largest undersea alternating current cable between the Peloponnese and Crete. He said Greece was one of the first countries to announce a ban on single use plastics, scheduled for July. The public sector will roll it out already at the start of next month.
The National Reforestation Plan will enable covering 50,000 hectares with 30 million trees, the former environment minister asserted. He pointed out that numerous unregulated waste landfills have been closed and that an upcoming bill would regulate waste separation, with incentives.