Following a summer of devastating fires and record temperatures, Greece’s government has created a new ministry to address the impact and risks of climate change. Led by former European Union commissioner Christos Stylianides, the ministry will be in charge of firefighting, disaster relief, and policies to adapt to rising temperatures.
Summer wildfires have burned more than 1,000 square kilometers (385 square miles) of forest in southern Greece and on the island of Evia this year. In addition to extreme temperatures and winds, the widespread devastation from the fires was also attributed to mismanaged firefighting resources.
“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,” said Stylianides, newly-appointed minister of the climate crisis and civil protection. Before taking the position, Stylianides served as the European Union’s head coordinator for response to the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.