Em­brac­ing cli­mate change ideas for sus­tain­able fu­ture econ­omy


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

As an is­land, Cyprus has no choice but to adopt, per­haps even lead the way, in cli­mate change pro­pos­als agreed at the Paris sum­mit, which some crit­ics said fell short of dras­tic mea­sures to counter the global en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

Our econ­omy re­lies heav­ily on ser­vices, agri­cul­ture, tourism and ship­ping, with three out of th­ese four di­rectly af­fected by cli­mate change. This is why this gov­ern­ment, hav­ing proven very slow to im­ple­ment re­forms in the past three years, should at least em­brace the pro­pos­als for an en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able econ­omy. Where the is­land has no ma­jor smoke-spew­ing in­dus­tries, pol­lut­ing the air, it can do more and smarter things be­cause of its small scale.

Al­ready, re­searchers at the Cyprus In­sti­tute have not only sug­gested, but proven that a 1-2C rise in tem­per­a­ture will have a se­ri­ous i mpact on the tourism in­dus­try and all re­lated ser­vices. By sim­ply say­ing that we will ex­tend the sum­mer sea­son is com­pla­cent, let alone naïve. If world­wide emis­sions force the weather to be­come warmer, then from midJuly to the end of Au­gust ( by far, the best pe­riod in tourist ar­rivals) will soon be­come un­bear­able, hence no tourists and no rev­enue.

The sit­u­a­tion seems bet­ter in the mar­itime sec­tor, where Cyprus-based shipown­ers and ship-man­agers have a bet­ter grasp of global cli­matic fluc­tu­a­tions, and have vol­un­tar­ily adopted or are in­vest­ing in ecofriendly mea­sures and tech­nol­ogy. This must be kept up to pro­mote the Cyprus flag as the green­est of all.

Un­for­tu­nately, as re­gards farming and agri­cul­ture, past ad­min­is­tra­tions have ig­nored this sec­tor, sim­ply be­cause of the small con­tri­bu­tion to the na­tional out­put (less than 3.5% of GDP) and the few votes that mat­ter dur­ing elec­tions. The stupid de­ci­sion to shut down the Forestry Col­lege, at a time when Cyprus has no state ed­u­ca­tional pro­gramme for a sus­tain­able ru­ral econ­omy, goes to show how lit­tle this gov­ern­ment cares about keep­ing the is­land green and en­cour­ag­ing re­search in the coun­try­side, where other coun­tries spend mil­lions to boost this area. Fi­nally, as the Green party has grad­u­ally be­come a grey one, fo­cus­ing more on po­lit­i­cal is­sues, rather than the en­vi­ron­ment and the econ­omy, there is no sin­gle voice or plat­form left to col­lect all the thinkers and con­trib­ute to a bet­ter, cleaner and greener fu­ture.

Th­ese prob­lems are now on al­most ev­ery­one’s minds, es­pe­cially as or­di­nary folk, even taxi and truck driv­ers, have wit­nessed first-hand the wrath of the re­cent freak storms and un­ex­pected cold front, caus­ing havoc to farm­ers’ crops, which in turn im­pacts re­tail­ers and con­sumers alike. Th­ese are ev­ery­day con­cerns that our elected of­fi­cials have re­mained out of touch with, as they suf­fer from the NIMBY syn­drome (not in my back yard) and are only ‘se­ri­ous’ when it comes to is­sues like catching or eat­ing am­be­lopou­lia, or smok­ing in the cor­ri­dors of par­lia­ment.

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