Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis: “It is a complete, realistic plan that looks beyond a term of office or a single municipal authority.”
An updated climate action plan was approved by the Athens City Council. This lays the foundation for a crucial goal: in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C as required by the Paris Agreement, Athens must achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
The 161-page plan prepared by the Strategic Planning and Resilience Office of the City of Athens marks the first time a Greek city has systematically and scientifically described the impact of climate change and defined specific solutions.
The plan also aims to tackle the rising prices of everyday goods by reducing energy costs and shifting to renewable energy sources, while also protecting public health and improving quality of life.
The goals to be reached by 2030 in numbers:
- 61% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 2018).
- 70% of the city's population should have access to a green area within 15-minutes of home.
- 30% of the city’s surface area should be covered by green areas (tree lines, urban forests, parks, hills, private green, green walls and roofs) and/or permeable surfaces (soil surfaces, water permeable materials, surfaces with sustainable systems water management).
At the same time, the plan includes a strategic vision for quality of life:
- Reduce high temperatures and the intensity of the urban heat island phenomenon.
- Reduce the intensity of localized flooding.
- Protect public health and support vulnerable populations.
- Protect the natural and built environment from climate threats.
- Enhance biodiversity and support natural resources.
- Improve air quality.
- Reduce noise pollution.
- Enhance the resilience of infrastructure.
Action items included in the Climate Plan:
The Climate Action Plan includes actions defined through many months of consultations between the City of Athens, academic institutions, representatives of resident groups, non-governmental organizations, climate experts and representatives of the private sector working in the field of environment.
The lines of action are summarized as follows:
- Produce energy from Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and complete the energy upgrade of the built environment.
- Accelerate the transition to sustainable and smart mobility.
- Revitalize urban spaces by integrating green and blue infrastructure.
- Restore and manage ecosystems for biodiversity.
- Prevent and respond to climate threats.
- Promote circular development as well as sustainable water and waste management.
- Support the transition toward becoming a green and digital city.
The speech of Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis during the meeting of the City Council:
During the meeting of the Athens City Council, Mayor Bakoyannis, emphasized that “this plan looks beyond a term of office or a single municipal authority. It shouldn’t benefit one party, it should benefit the whole city” and he added “It is not an abstract design. It combines technical analysis with holistic planning. It's realistic and it is already being implemented.”
Bakoyannis described the plan as a “road map” and underlined: “It will not become a reality in one day. It takes time and a lot of work. We know that for all that has been done there is a lot more to do. Now we know the path that we need to take to achieve our goals. This is exactly the plan,” he said.
The mayor noted that the Climate Action Plan was updated through the participation of Athens in the C40 climate network: “Athens followed the roadmap for the member cities of the network and developed targeted actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change while enhancing the resilience of the city.”
The mayor also pointed out that “we made a basic strategic choice as the municipal authority that our entire development plan, project schedules, interventions in public space, parks and trees, as well as the environmental and social policy should all be inseparably integrated in the wider climate action plan.”
He added: “any decision taken by the City of Athens has the climate crisis at its heart.”
The mayor referred to the recent success of Athens – along with five more Greek cities – to be included in the program of the European Commission “100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030 - by and for the citizens” which values community resources and will provide many benefits.
Finally, Bakoyannis thanked all those who participated in the development of the plan and said that it is a living plan that will be systematically updated and re-evaluated every year in the city council.
In the coming years, the Athens Climate Action Plan – and the corresponding plans of other major cities throughout the world - will guide the public and private sector and mobilize civil society with the goal of restoring the global climate balance and developing a sustainable outlook in future generations. The milestones for tackling the climate crisis are set every decade in 2030, 2040 and finally 2050.