Stelios Kympouropoulos is a Greek psychiatrist and politician of the New Democracy party who has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since the 2019 elections. He was born on July 9, 1985, in Athens, Greece. Kympouropoulos is a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, of the Delegation for Relations with the Mashreq countries, and of the Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. He is also a member of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament. In June 2023, Kympouropoulos was the recipient of the Health and Wellbeing Award at The Parliament Magazine’s.
Mr. Kympouropoulos, how do you interpret Europe’s role as a leader in the green transition, and how can we ensure that the green transition does not lead to deindustrialization and energy poverty in Europe, taking into account different socio-economic conditions?
Since the beginning of my term in the European Parliament, even during the health crisis, the relevant legislative process has not been halted. The climate crisis is a reality, and in Europe, it is more crucial than ever to strengthen clean technologies. However, there must be a balance, as the transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050 can lead to deindustrialization and energy poverty because not all countries adhere to the environmental conditions set and applied by Europe in the global market. Therefore, at both the European and Greek levels, it is necessary to create the conditions that will lead us to a healthy business, energy, and consumer transformation. What do I mean by business, energy, and consumer transformation? I think we all agree on a 360-degree approach with three main pillars: a) business/industrial production, b) the need for energy generation, and c) consumer habits or lifestyles. For example, we cannot have a factory that produces recycled products but uses energy solely from lignite or oil. Conversely, an industry cannot rely on 100% green energy and produce plastics. Additionally, no industry could rely on clean energy and recycled products if consumers do not have the relevant consumer belief or habit. Therefore, we are dealing with something complex. Essentially, to achieve a zero-pollution economy, we must change our way of life!
How does the Greek Government promote the energy transition, and what are the main initiatives it has undertaken in this sector?
A fundamental pillar for the transformation of the country’s energy system is the increase in the participation of green electricity. The increasing consumption trend of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) recorded in the last three years is expected to continue accelerating until 2030. Specifically, in the new revised National Energy and Climate Plan, the share of RES in gross final energy consumption will approach 44% by 2030 and exceed 80% in electricity generation, reaching 90% by 2050. Additionally, offshore wind parks are expected to be another strong asset for the country’s energy transition, with 2.6 GW expected to be operational by 2030, attracting investments of over 6 billion euros. The goal is for their capacity to reach 12 GW by 2040 and 17 GW by 2050, as Greece can fully exploit the enormous wind potential of the Aegean Sea. Finally, offshore wind parks are expected to significantly boost the Greek economy, as 80% of the investment will be constructed and provided by Greek companies.
How does Greece’s participation in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change reflect Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ strategy in the energy sector and the promotion of Greece as an energy hub?
In this specific conference, Greece is represented by both the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Environment and Energy. The steps Greece will take in the energy transition will be clearly highlighted. It is now known that Greece will continuously invest in Renewable Energy Sources (RES), new forms of fuels, and interconnections with Southeastern Mediterranean countries, upgrading our position as an energy hub in Europe.
Europe has already established a significant framework for the energy landscape. For instance, the Net Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Materials Act strengthen the transition to clean, low-emission energy, secure the sustainable supply of critical raw materials for European industry, and reduce dependence on imports from third countries.
In the context of sustainable development, investments in biofuels and hydrogen are crucial for energy companies and our country in the coming years. It is noteworthy that with the support of the Greek government and Egypt, the “GREGY – Green Energy Interconnector” has been included in the Project of Common Interest (PMI) list by the European Commission. This signifies the official support of the EU and marks the initiation of funding for the necessary studies.
The project’s budget is set at 4 billion euros, aiming to develop a submarine power cable with a capacity of 3 GW to transfer green electrical energy from RES in Egypt to Greece. The next phase involves connecting to European transmission networks to extend the reach of electric energy to Central Europe.
What legislative initiatives have you supported or proposed to address the challenges arising from climate change, and how do they connect with the aforementioned discussion at the United Nations Conference?
With the Green Deal, the EU aims to reduce pollution emissions by 55% by 2030. Consequently, the “Fit for 55” package introduces several changes. Member states will now allocate 100% of their revenue from emission rights trading to projects related to climate, energy, and the social dimension of the transition. The new Climate Social Fund will allocate 65 billion euros from the EU budget and over 86 billion euros overall to support vulnerable citizens and small businesses, addressing inequality, energy poverty, and enhancing the competitiveness of European businesses.
To ensure fair competition conditions for European companies, the new Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will subject imported products to carbon emission pricing at the borders. This mechanism will be a valuable tool to promote global emission reduction and leverage the EU market to achieve our global climate goals.
Finally, the industrial plan of the Green Deal, the “Net Zero Industry Act,” presented in February 2023, aims to enhance the competitiveness of the European zero-emission industry and accelerate the transition to climate neutralit