Greece appoints former EU Commissioner to lead new climate ministry after wildfires

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The Greek government confirmed on Monday that former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, will head the newly formed Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Ministry. 

Former Chief of the Air Force Staff, Evangelos Tournas, was appointed deputy minister, government spokesperson, Yiannis Oikonomou, said during a press briefing on Monday.

Stylianides, a Cypriot citizen, will receive an honorary Greek citizenship in order to serve ahead of his swearing in ceremony on Friday, in line with Greek law.

“I have accepted (the position) with the full awareness of the challenges and expectations that come with it. The consequences of climate change have overtaken us, and we must accelerate major change without delay,” Stylianides said after the announcement about his appointment.

READ MORE: Greek cabinet reshuffled as new ministers sworn in.

Former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

“Disaster prevention and preparedness is the most effective weapon we have.” 

The ministry was created by Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, following devastating wildfires in August. The blazes burned more than 116,000 hectares of forest on the island of Evia and in southern Greece.

Government officials acknowledged mistakes in handling resources while battling the fire in Evia, where the most widespread damage was caused, but also blamed climate change for the steadily worsening weather conditions. The fires were fuelled by scorching temperatures, reaching into the mid-40°C.

As the new minister, Stylianides will head firefighting, disaster relief and policies to adapt to rising temperatures resulting from climate change.

Source: Euronews.

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