Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government would be prioritizing prevention strategies and actions as fires continued to burn across Greece for the eighth day in a row on Tuesday.
Addressing a cabinet meeting, Mitsotakis admitted that the conditions made it difficult to deal with the fires. Describing the Mediterranean as a “climate change hotspot”, Mitsotakis said a “difficult summer was still ahead”.
“We may have more means, more manpower and better preparation, but we know that the battle is difficult… conditions will get worse… higher temperatures, stronger winds, drought,” he said.
Fires continued to burn across Greece in Karystos on Evia, which also suffered massive fires in 2021; on Corfu; and at Dervenakia in the Peloponnese while more villages on Rhodes were evacuated as fires devastated the island for the eighth consecutive day on Tuesday. Evacuation orders were issued earlier today for the villages of Vati on Rhodes, and Loutses and Imerolia on Corfu.
Speaking to his cabinet, Mitsotakis said that climate change was affecting the entire planet and particularly the Mediterranean and that there was no “formula” to deal with the crisis.
“Concerted actions can mitigate the consequences of the climate crisis, and we will continue in this manner, with more forces and greater emphasis on interoperability, better cooperation between relevant ministries and agencies, and prevention actions that will be the focus of our programing from now on,” he said.
The Greek prime minister went on to stress that the top priority has been to protect human life and that evacuation operations were successful especially on Rhodes. An urgent preliminary investigation has been launched into the causes of the fire on the island.
Meanwhile, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced on Tuesday that as part of efforts to crack down on lawlessness and arson, he would be doubling Arson Crimes Unit staff and increasing fines for offences related to arson or fire safety.
Looking ahead, the Civil Protection ministry warns that fire risk remains extremely high (red category 5) on Tuesday and Wednesday for much of mainland Greece and Crete as temperatures are set to rise once again reaching the mid-40s (degrees Celsius) and winds to become stronger.
MTF: Mediterranean will be climate change hotspot
It should be reminded that in 2021, in the aftermath of hundreds of fires breaking out in Greece, Italy, Albania, Morocco, North Macedonia, Turkey and Lebanon, the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation (MTF) called on governments to accelerate actions that address climate change and environmental protection after a UN report found that the Mediterranean will be a “climate change hotspot” in the years ahead.
“We need more action in the form of concrete solutions to be driven by both public and private entities. What is happening around us is a wake-up call for all of us,” the organization said in a statement issued in August 2021.
Months later that very same year, Athens University Professor Konstantinos Kartalis stressed that Greece needed a 30-year adjustment plan to address climate change before it negatively impacts tourism and agriculture.
“We need an adaptation plan for each region over a 30-year period. To create infrastructure that will keep water on the surface, enrich water levels but also to restructure agricultural cultivation,” he said presenting a study carried out by research and policy institute diaNEOsis.