Crete, one of Greece’s top holiday destinations, has identified key actions to become a zero-emissions island by 2030 by boosting use of renewable energy and electric cars, optimising its water resources and recycling waste as a way to protect its local environment and make the island more resilient to climate change.
The priorities emerged from the first in situ meeting of the Greening the Islands Observatory, held on 28th February – 1st March in Heraklion and hosted by the Region of Crete. It saw the active participation of all key stakeholders: technical departments of the Crete Region and government, utilities, universities, local SMEs, Greening the Islands specialists and corporate members such as Hitachi and Xant.
“Our government urgently needs to develop a new green growth strategy for the island to protect the environment, improve the quality of life of inhabitants and create a new economy that will generate new stable jobs related to innovative green sectors,” commented Stavros Arnaoutakis, Regional Governor of Crete. “We’re counting on our co-operation with Greening the Islands to develop a plan to becoming a zero-emissions island by 2030”.
“This meeting has been a unique opportunity to establish an operational local working group with all key decision makers within the Greening the Islands Observatory,” commented Gianni Chianetta, Director of Greening the Islands. “In the coming months, we’ll be exploring in detail the key actions that will make Crete, already one of the most visited Mediterranean tourist destinations, a leading global green tourism destination.”
“The effects of climate change are already real. There is no more time to delay concrete actions to protect the environment and prevent further disasters”, stated George Kremlis, Honorary Director at the European Commission and Active Senior for Circular Economy In Islands. “A new plan for Crete needs to be originated by an integrated approach to resilience and sustainability. A circular economy has to be priority number one in the agenda of Crete and of the 2,500 EU islands.”
Among the measures planned for Crete:
- Storage systems to support the increase of renewables
- Energy efficiency solutions for hotels, buildings and street lights
- A study of the water system in order to develop a strategy for drought protection, potentially including innovative desalination plants
- Electrifying ports and vessels with charging infrastructure and a policy to promote use of electric boats
- Incentivising the use of electric cars
- New methods to increase separate collection and the evaluation of biogas plants
- Awareness campaigns for the Crete population
Online forums in the Greening the Islands web-app will be created, where all technical documents of the meeting will be published and where all key stakeholders from Crete will continue to discuss their work ahead of the next meeting, expected in the summer. Crete residents will be able to see the forums on the website of the Regional government, follow the debate and send comments.
Next Island meetings: Helgoland (Germany) – 23rd and 24th of April & Favignana – 28th and 29th of May.