In a Nutshell
- Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) will be used in Greece to compensate for residual greenhouse gas emissions in 2050. Greece’s main focus is on the land-use, land-use change and forestry sector.
- Greece has a climate neutrality objective by 2050 enshrined in domestic law, as well as intermediate objectives of 55% emission reduction by 2030 and 80% by 2040 compared to 1990 levels.
- The National Recovery and Resilience Plan provides most of the funding available for CDR and carbon management.
- The development of a voluntary carbon market is being explored in Greece.
Role for carbon removal in national climate policy
Greece has acknowledged the key role that carbon dioxide removal plays in reaching climate neutrality by 2050 in its draft updated national energy and climate plan (NECP). The plan states that residual emissions will be compensated through “negative emissions and CO2 absorption” by the land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector. The plan quantifies what these residual emissions might be, aims for a 93% emissions reductions without the LULUCF sector, and 99% compared to 1990 when including the LULUCF sector. The plan also sets indicative emissions reductions targets every five years between 2025 and 2050.
Forests are the largest carbon sink in Greece, therefore, most measures related to CDR revolve around increasing forests’ carbon sink capabilities. The plan also mentions better agricultural practices to increase the LULUCF sector’s net removals. Greece plans to use the Common Agricultural Policy’s toolbox to incentivise the uptake of practices resulting in higher soil carbon uptakes. Climate adaptation measures are also at the forefront of LULUCF-related action, given the increasing risks of forest fires and desertification.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is one of the ten strategic priorities set out in the Greek NECP. This slew of technologies is set to play a key role in decarbonising the energy, industry and transport sectors. For example, Greece has the ambition to bring the energy sector’s net emissions close to zero by 2035. Besides substantial increases in renewable energy capacities, captured CO2 from biomass and pellet steam power plants will be used to produce gas and liquid fuels. For the transport sector, one third of fuel needs are forecasted to be met by advanced biofuels and 50% through synthetic fuels. The latter include renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO), for which direct air capture is mentioned as a source of CO2. Regarding industry, cement factories are the main focus, as the production of building materials represents a substantial share of Greece’s overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Relevant legal frameworks
Greece adopted a climate law in 2022, which sets a climate neutrality target by 2050, as well as an intermediate target of -55% GHG emissions by 2030 and -80% by 2040 compared to 1990 levels.
The legal framework around CO2 storage is found in the Ministerial Decision 48416/2037/E.103/2011, which transposed the EU CCS Directive into Greek law. It follows the broad line of the EU directive. Following a proposal by the Minister of Environment and Energy, the public-owned Hellenic Hydrocarbons and Energy Resources Management Company (HEREMA) was appointed in April 2022 as the competent authority for permitting and monitoring CO2 storage projects, in accordance with the EU CCS Directive.
Regarding trans-border CO2 transportation for under-seabed geological storage, Greece has ratified the London Convention but not the London Protocol. Contracting parties to the Protocol can still engage with Greece regarding CO2 transport, though they must ensure that Greece follows the environmental protections defined by the Protocol.
Support for R&D and Innovation
There exist several potential funding sources for CDR in Greece and several active CCS projects.
At the national level, the draft NECP mentioned that the green transition working group is looking at how tax policy can be adjusted towards supporting green transition and related measures. The draft also mentioned the introduction of enhanced conditionality criteria for farmers to be eligible for CAP direct payments. There will be increased support for farmers through eco-schemes, including practices that use species resilient to climate change and practices that improve vegetation cover.
The most significant funding source is the National Recovery and Resilience Plan Greece 2.0. Among others, a total of EUR 600 million is dedicated to reforestation, biodiversity, flood mitigation, irrigation network upgrades and a waste management reform. Following the adoption of the RepowerEU package at the European level, measures aimed at further financing the promotion of CCS technologies for the industry have been proposed to be included in the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Project Prinos CCS is undergoing a funding request for EUR 50 million, which is subject to the European Commission’s approval. The project has also been selected in the sixth list of Projects of Common Interest under the Trans-European Network – Energy (TEN-E) Regulation. The project will create a CO2 transport and storage infrastructure in depleted oil reservoirs under the seabed. The project is estimated to cost EUR 1 billion and will have a capacity of 1MtCO2 per year initially in Q4 2025, ramping up to a maximum of 3MtCO2 per year when fully operational in Q4 2027.
Two CCUS projects were selected as part of the third call for large-scale projects under the EU Innovation Fund. Project IFESTOS will retrofit an existing cement plant with carbon capture technologies, aiming to capture up to 1.9MtCO2 per year. The IRIS project will capture CO2 emitted by the production of blue hydrogen. While these projects are not considered CDR, they can have spillover effects by creating the necessary CO2 infrastructure.
The Greek Green Funds amount to EUR 400 million. Among others, these funds are available for companies in the Greek territory active in natural resources conservation, biomass/biogas for energy production or the production of energy from renewable resources.
The Hellenic Fund for Sustainable Development invests in companies from several sectors active in Greece. Among others, it invests in biomass for energy production and in agricultural companies implementing sustainable practices. Its focus is broad and could include CDR.
The Ministry of Development sets research priorities for all sectors in Greek economy. The priorities for the environment and cyclical economy sector and the sustainable energy sector include several streams linked to CCUS.
On the horizon
- Most of the measures outlined in the draft updated NECP need to be materialised in actual policies and legal frameworks.
- A full inventory and monitoring plan of the country’s forests and woodlands is due by 2025.
- The draft NECP mentions the development of a voluntary carbon market is being explored in Greece. It aims to offer companies further opportunities to reach zero emissions and support local efforts to reduce and remove CO2.
- Net zero target: 2050
- Net Negative Target:
- First interim target: 2030
- Type of interim target: Emissions reduction target
- GHGs covered: Carbon dioxide and other GHGs
- Separate target for emission reduction and removals:
- Comprehensive CDR Target: no
- CDR Target for Conventional Removals: no
- CDR Target for Novel Removals: no
- Historical emissions: No
- Annual reporting mechanism: Annual reporting
- Plans for carbon removal (CDR): Yes (nature-based removals e.g. Forestation, soil carbon enhancement)
- Planning to use external carbon credits: No
- Conditions on use of carbon credits:
Public consultations and upcoming policies
Ministry of Environment and Energy – Responsible for environmental, climate and energy policies.
Ministry of Rural Development and Food – Responsible for agricultural policies and for implementing the Common Agricultural Policy strategic plan.
Ministry of Development – Responsible for the industry sector and setting the national research priorities among others.
Think Tanks and NGOs
The Green Tank – Independent environmental think-tank focusing on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation and the transition towards a sustainable economy.