Greece has recently gone through the greatest financial crisis to affect a member of the Eurozone since the introduction of the single currency ten years ago. With raging unemployment exacerbated by huge cut-backs in public sector spending, the Athens government spent the first quarter of 2010 faced by riots in the streets, a result of the financial crisis which is hitting the Greeks harder than anybody.
However, plans are afoot to revitalise the stricken Greek economy with the announcement yesterday that 12 billion euros will be invested in green projects in an attempt to create jobs in new renewable industries. In a press release issued by the Greek government, Tina Birbili the Environment Minister said,
“The ministry hopes the programme will decisively contribute to face recession and lead to dynamic economic growth”
Birbili believes that renewable projects could attract around 32 billion euros of investment from around the world creating up to 192,000 jobs. This will at least come as a glimpse of light in a country where unemployment is steadily on the rise and national debt is at an all time high. The EU bailout, funded largely by Germany expires in 2 years, by which point Greece will be hoping that the economy is back on track.
Both Gordon Brown and Barack Obama have been keen exponents of renewable energy as a means of kick-starting the struggling economies of the UK and US respectively. Sound bites such as ‘Green New Deal’ have regularly appeared in the press both sides of the Atlantic in a reference to the government projects of the 1930’s designed to boost recovery after the Great depression. It seems that Greece is going to follow this lead with a number of projects now in the pipeline.
Certainly, with Greece already falling behind other southern European countries with regards to its renewable energy uptake, the investment could provide the vital impetus needed to get the renewable energy industry in Greece on its feet. With targets of generating 40 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, they have their work cut out.