Greece has created its first-ever ministerial post to solely handle the fallout from climate change in the wake of this summer’s devastating wildfires — and it’s bringing in, Christos Stylianides, a former EU crisis manager expert to inaugurate the role.
Christos Stylianides, previously the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, was announced, on Monday, as Greece’s climate crisis and civil protection minister, Politico.eu announced.
The appointment highlights how climate change challenges have vastly expanded for governments in recent years, stretching far beyond efforts to simply cut emissions to also include handling more severe weather events, such as floods and wildfires. Few, if any, European governments have such a post currently.
In Greece, the government is under pressure to shore up its response to the wildfires that tore through parts of the country last month, razing swaths of woods, burning buildings, killing animals and sending thousands of people fleeing from their homes.
“The consequences of climate change have overtaken us and we must accelerate the major changes without delay,” Stylianides posted on Twitter.
“Disaster prevention and preparedness is the most effective weapon we have” , he added.
Stylianides, a Cypriot national, will receive honorary Greek citizenship so that he can serve in the post before being sworn in Friday, government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said.
Intense heatwaves fueled Greece’s devastating wildfires in August.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis bluntly called it “the greatest ecological catastrophe of the last few decades.”
The government has faced severe criticism over how it managed the devastating blazes. Mitsotakis has admitted lapses in the state responses and last week reshuffled his top officials in an attempt to show the government is addressing the situation.
He ousted former Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis and moved his deputy, Nikos Hardalias, to another post.