Greece won't cut heating oil tax despite smog: minister

Dec 25, 2013
A line of smog over suburbs north west of Athens on December 28, 2012

Greece's government Wednesday ruled out reducing a tax on heating oil despite a sharp increase in smog resulting from extensive wood-burning.

"Reducing the price is not the solution (to the problem)," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told a joint Christmas Day press conference with Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis and Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis.

Crisis-hit Greeks are increasingly shunning fuel for cheaper firewood to heat their homes, as energy prices have soared because of tax hikes that are part of the country's EU-IMF bailout deals.

Excessive wood-burning has caused choked skies in Athens and other main cities around the country, prompting repeated pollution warnings.

At the weekend in Athens' northern suburbs, particulate matter was double the normal level for the area, approaching what is considered the alarm threshold of 150 milligrammes per cubic metre.

The three ministers further urged the public to take advantage of subsidies and free electricity available to low-income families.

On Monday, the health ministry finalised a plan offering free power to poorer households when smog exceeds safety levels.

Under the plan, those registered with the state power company's low-income rates are entitled to two days of free electricity for every day that smog hits the alarm level.

The smog contains sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and other carcinogens, all dangerous for public health.

The economic crisis that has stalked Greece since 2010 initially caused pollution to dip because of a drop in automobile traffic.

Explore further: Japan eyeing 26% greenhouse gas cut: officials

Related Stories

Pollution alarm as Greeks switch to firewood for heat

Dec 23, 2013

Greek authorities on Monday offered free electricity to low-income families on certain days, after smog rose sharply as hard-hit residents increasingly shun fuel for cheaper firewood to heat their homes.

Wood-burning sets off pollution alarm bells in Athens

Dec 28, 2012

Air pollution in Athens has surged in recent days because of people choosing wood over more expensive fuels to heat their homes in the grips of a continuing economic crisis, the environment ministry said ...

Hospital in southwest China opens smog clinic

Dec 18, 2013

A hospital in southwest China has opened a clinic for patients who are suffering symptoms related to smog, a doctor said Wednesday, highlighting how big a concern pollution has become for Chinese.

Greek economic crisis leads to air pollution crisis

Dec 19, 2013

In the midst of a winter cold snap, a study from researchers in the United States and Greece reveals an overlooked side effect of economic crisis – dangerous air quality caused by burning cheaper fuel for ...

Dangerous pollution levels blight Chinese city

Oct 22, 2013

Thick smog enveloped a major Chinese city for a third day Tuesday, with schools and a regional airport shut and poor visibility forcing ground transport to a halt in places.

Recommended for you

Japan eyeing 26% greenhouse gas cut: officials

May 01, 2015

Japan is planning to pledge a 26 percent cut in its greenhouse gas emissions from 2013 levels, ahead of a global summit on climate change this year, officials said Friday.

Unforeseen dangers in a global food system

May 01, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim during a recent blizzard that food delivery bikes were not emergency vehicles caused a small disruption in the City's normally fast, abundant and inexpensive access ...

Emissions from natural gas wells may travel far downwind

May 01, 2015

Emissions linked to hydraulic fracturing, the method of drilling for natural gas commonly known as "fracking," can be detected hundreds of miles away in states that that forbid or strictly control the practice, ...

Research helps tackle mine tailings disasters

May 01, 2015

Research and technology transfer activities at The University of Western Australia are helping address a persistent and serious problem facing the mining industry worldwide.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

OZGuy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2013
Under the plan, those registered with the state power company's low-income rates are entitled to two days of free electricity for every day that smog hits the alarm level.


Hang on, so if I was more interested in free electricity than the pollution levels wouldn't this encourage me to pollute in the hope of gaining free electricity?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.