Cyprus behind schedule on cutting emissions
By Stelios Orphanides
NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus is behind schedule in slowing growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, partly because no-one wants to sacrifice land for lucrative tourism or housing to develop renewable energy, environmental officials said.
They blamed poor coordination in implementing measures to fight climate change. One said there had been a delay in introducing cleaner natural gas on the island to cut its dependence on heavy fuel oil, which produces high emissions.
"In a 2002 study we carried out, it was one of the basic assumptions that (power utility) EAC would operate natural gas generators by 2007," said Costas Papastavros, a senior officer in the Cyprus Environmental Services Department under the Agriculture Ministry.
The island's heavy dependence on oil mean its per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are among the world's highest.
According to United Nations figures released on Thursday, each Cypriot produced 9.2 metric tons of CO2 in 2004, compared to 4.5 metric tons for an average person worldwide.
The delay in introducing natural gas relates to a government decision to opt for a floating storage platform for liquefied natural gas (LNG), rather than a land-based platform as initially planned.
Meanwhile, the island has failed to install a single megawatt of capacity in renewable energy sources, although it is committed to cover 6 percent of its power needs with renewables by 2010.
"Developers believe that all land plots can be used for tourist and housing projects. Where are we going to find the land to construct the 300 megawatt capacity in renewables we need in the next few years?" Papastavros said.
He said municipalities were opposing construction of wind farms, fearing that these would harm land values.
Renewable energy sources and introduction of natural gas are essential parts of the island's plan to limit the increase of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 50 percent above 1990 levels. Without these measures, they will rise 200 percent.
(Editing by Anthony Barker)