Athens appoints Europe’s first Chief Heat Officer to combat climate crisis

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Athens has appointed urban climate resilience veteran, Eleni Myrivili, as the city’s Chief Heat Officer to protect people from soaring temperatures and find ways to adapt the city to the current climate crisis.

The appointment, which was made on Friday by the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, is the first in Europe and believed to be only the second in the world, after Miami-Dade county in Florida appointed a chief heat officer earlier this year.

“I have a vision for a cooler, greener Athens,” Mayor Bakoyannis said at the announcement.

“Climate change for our city means more frequent and dangerous extreme high temperatures for residents and for tourists who are critical for our economy. Unfortunately, Athens is not unique – heat is an emergency for cities across Europe and the world.”

Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis.

READ MORE: ‘We hope you are proud of us’: Mayor of Athens addresses Greek Australians in dialogue series.

For her part, Ms Myrivili thanked Mayor Bakoyannis for realising the gravity of the climate situation and “mobilising international support for addressing it.”

“I am honored to serve as Europe’s first Chief Heat Officer and look forward to raising awareness among the citizens of Athens about the grave dangers of extreme heat and helping decision-makers take action to cool the city and protect people and their communities. We’ve been talking about global warming for decades, but we haven’t talked much about heat,” Ms Myrivili said.

Myrivili’s task will be to find ways to cool the city, beyond the obvious air conditioning in buildings, which only adds to the climate crisis by its massive use of energy around the world.

Athens has appointed urban climate resilience veteran, Eleni Myrivili (talking), as the city’s Chief Heat Officer.

READ MORE: The Hellenic Initiative joins the Athens Partnership’s anti-graffiti campaign.

Planting trees and plants and cultivating green spaces for shade and their cooling properties will be vital, as will redesigning roads and buildings, and examining the materials used for building.

Athens has already announced a programme to increase the amount of green space and shade across the city. 

Athens’ actions have been supported by the City Champions for Heat Action initiative, a programme launched by the Resilience Centre of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation.

READ MORE: Pandemic pushes Athens to bottom of EIU’s most liveable cities rankings.

Source: The Guardian.

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