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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-10

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece aiming for balanced budgets by 2010
  • [02] Parnitha fire to make city hotter, scientists warn

  • [01] Greece aiming for balanced budgets by 2010

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis) - Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday reiterated the country's commitment to present balanced budgets by 2010.

    Speaking to reporters, after an ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Greek minister said it was a common position to seek ways to boost the pre-emptive nature of the Stability and Growth Pact. Alogoskoufis stressed that all Eurozone member-states have acknowledged the need to exploit the current positive economic conjucture in order to drastically cut their fiscal deficits.

    Commenting on France's problem, Alogoskoufis said the Council did not offer any special treatment nor any concessions to the country and underlined the French President's pledge to draft a new economic stability program by September, while he noted that both economic stability and high growth rates were feasible as was evident in the case of Greece.

    Greek economic growth rates were remarkable, Alogoskoufis said, noting that this situation was conjectural but the result of implementing a carefully planned economic program based on cutting tax factors and improving cooperation between the public and private sectors. This combination led to higher investments and lower unemployment, while Greece managed to achieve the most significant fiscal adjustments in the Eurozone.

    "We have cut the fiscal deficit from 7.9 pct of GDP in 2004 to 2.4 pct this year," the Greek minister said, adding that "Greece still has a high public debt with a cost of around 10 billion euros in interest spending". He noted that more steps were needed to cut the debt.

    Social transfers were expected to reach 18 percent of GDP this year and to 18.4 pct in 2008 in a period when public spending by Eurozone member-states were reduced, he said.

    "We have three main priorities in our economic policy. To continue fiscal consolidation, to further boost growth and to strengthen social cohesion," Alogoskoufis said.

    Caption: ANA/MPA file photo of Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    [02] Parnitha fire to make city hotter, scientists warn

    Dire predictions concerning the repercussions of the Parnitha fire on Attica's climate were made on Tuesday by Greek scientists and environmental organisations during a press conference in Athens, who recommended measures to prevent the resulting increase in temperatures.

    Among them were the vice-rector of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and head of the Urban Environment Laboratory Yiannis Polyzos, the head of the Natural Building Environment Group at Athens University Dr. Manthos Santamouris and representatives of the Greek offices of Greenpeace and WWF-Hellas.

    They stressed that immediate implementation of the measures they suggested by ministries and local authorities would almost certainly mitigate the negative repercussions on average temperatures in Attica.

    Santamouris explained that the forest of Parnitha was one of the most important cooling mechanisms for Attica's climate, especially of the north winds blowing toward the capital. Now the forest had been replaced by a burnt landscape, this air would be heated instead of cooling and add to the city's already heavy heat load, in the same way that additional traffic did.

    "Simply put, it's as though we doubled the number of cars in the Attica basin," he said.

    The scientists called for the protection of all remaining open land around the capital, so as to save what was left, and the planting of these areas to compensate for the lost forest on Parnitha.

    These represented "a total of large but also small surfaces that is roughly equivalent to the burnt expanses," according to Polyzos.

    In addition, scientists called for restricting the use of private cars in the city, with priority given to public transport, noting that these could raise temperatures in the city by 1 degree Celsius; restriction of construction and the introduction of criteria requiring new buildings to have bioclimatic features; improving older buildings through the use of "green roofs" and light-coloured roofs that might lower temperatures by up to 3 degrees Celsius; the use of cooler materials for road surfaces, pavements and open spaces, since using the wrong materials greatly increased the city's surface temperature and that of the environment; and immediate adoption and implementation of European Union directives on energy efficiency in buildings, whose energy performance in Greece was poor and led to extremely high energy consumption in order for them to be cooled but also to a significant additional heat burden on the environment as a result.

    According to representatives of environmental groups, the above measures would have been necessary in any case but the incineration of Parnitha‚s forest now made their adoption urgent. They also undertook to exert pressure for their adoption on ministries and local governments.

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