Presidents of Mediterranean states demand climate crisis action

The statement by Italy, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta and Portugal comes after heatwaves, wildfires and flooding.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning at a recycling plant, in Sesklo, in central Greece
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire burning at a recycling plant in Sesklo in central Greece [File: Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters]

Italy’s president and his counterparts in five European countries have demanded urgent moves to tackle the “climate crisis” after scorching heatwaves, wildfires and flooding.

There are fears that such extreme summers in southern Europe will harm the tourism industry and also harvests, two mainstays of the economies of the region.

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“Extreme natural phenomena are destroying the ecosystem and threatening our daily life, our way of life,” said a statement signed by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and his counterparts in Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta and Portugal.

Large areas of the Mediterranean sweltered under an intense heatwave last month and firefighters battled to put out deadly blazes across a region stretching from Algeria to Turkey.

“There is no more time to waste, no more time to compromise for political or economic reasons,” the presidents said in the statement, adding that the Mediterranean region was particularly exposed to the risks of water shortages and desertification.

The initiative was spurred by a telephone call between Mattarella and Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and then extended to other members of the “Arraiolos Group” of non-executive presidents from EU states.

“All Mediterranean countries must coordinate and react, engage in a collective effort to halt and reverse the effects of the climate crisis,” the statement added.

The president in Italy plays a role in resolving political crises and tends to speak out in broad terms on wider social issues, while steering clear of partisan positions.

Thursday’s statement sounded the alarm, but did not propose concrete remedies to try to deal with the issue.

Italy itself needs to invest more and step up efforts to meet an EU 2030 target for lower carbon emissions, a government document seen by Reuters news agency last month showed.

Source: Reuters