Greece to explain itself to UN on gas emissions

ATHENS, April 22, 2008 (AFP) – Greece will submit its gas emissions system to United Nations inspection after being found in violation of Kyoto Protocol guidelines, the junior minister in charge of the issue said Tuesday.

“We have asked for (UN inspectors) to come as soon as possible and see our monitoring system,” deputy environment minister Stavros Kalogiannis told SKAI Radio.

“Greece has not been ejected from the Protocol,” he added.

The UN body overseeing compliance to the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), on April 17 found Greece “not in compliance” with its obligation to have a monitoring system in place and provide an inventory of national greenhouse gas emissions.

The problem surfaced last year when the Greek scientific team monitoring emissions was replaced, Kalogiannis said.

“The system until 2007 operated under the Athens Observatory but last year the UN found that some measurements from 1995 onwards were mistaken,” the deputy minister said.

But the UN enforcement team said “questions remained” on the smooth transition between scientific teams and on whether Greece’s monitoring system can meet delivery deadlines.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas had cast doubt on Greek efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions as early as January, noting the nation’s measurement system was at odds with that used by the United Nations.

“Greece is the only country in the European Union not to have convinced the United Nations that it has a credible system (to measure greenhouse gases), ” Dimas, himself a Greek, said at the time.

Athens said it would cut its emissions by 16.6 percent in the next four years but Dimas said the EU’s estimate of the reduction was six percent, from 71 million tonnes in 2005 to 69 million tonnes in 2008-2012.

Greece is not alone in failing to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations — fellow signatories Canada, Japan and some southern European countries are all well off-track in their goals.

The United States has refused to sign the protocol altogether, arguing it is too costly and flawed, and insists on mandatory emissions cuts for fast-growing emerging economies such as China and India.