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- European Policy Office
Offshore concessions amount to 72% of Greece’s territorial waters, 0r 16% of Greece’s Exclusive Economic Zone (58 000 sq km). And onshore concessions to 13% of Greece’s landmass (17 000 sq. km).
Six companies are involved in concessions for exploration and drilling activities, of which four multinational companies (Total, Repsol, ExxonMobil, Edison) and two Greek companies (Energean, Hellenic Petroleum). A number of them have an extensive history of oil spills, pollution incidents and financial scandals, including charges for tax evasion practices. Who doesn’t recall the Erika oil spill in France caused by Total, or the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska caused by ExxonMobil?
Offshore concessions are located in the Hellenic Trench, a deep marine area stretching from the north of Corfu to Southern Crete, and one of the most important Mediterranean habitats for the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale and the Sperm Whale. Other threatened species include the Mediterranean monk seal, the stripped dolphin, and the loggerhead sea turtle.
Oil and gas exploitation pose a threat to important land ecosystems and biodiversity as well, including the North Pindos National Park and the Ramsar Wetlands of Messolongi and Amvrakikos. With over 1,750 plant species and almost 300 vertebrate species, including many rare and protected species, the Pindos region is a biodiversity hot-spot.
Offshore drilling will adversely affect some of the most iconic tourism destinations of the Mediterranean, such as Corfu, Zakynthos and Crete. More than 8 million tourists visited the Ionian Islands, Western Greece and Crete in 2017.
More than 50% of the income and employment of impacted regions are dependent on the tourism and fishing sectors. Extensive pollution caused by operations as well as possible accidents will likely destroy thousands of jobs and wipe out millions of income.
As evidenced by existing research, no new oil and gas infrastructure can be developed in the EU if we are to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees and avoid catastrophic climate change effects.
Any oil and gas drilling activity entails unavoidable regular leaks, which have important cumulative impacts on marine environments and species. Beyond that, unconventional deep and ultra-deep offshore drilling, as is planned in the deep waters of the Hellenic trench, hugely increases the risks of unmanageable catastrophic oil spills - similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are development alternatives to oil and gas, which can maximize local employment and incomes without threatening livelihoods and ecosystems. Research shows that investments in renewables, energy efficiency and sustainable tourism typically create more jobs and generate more income for local economies and indeed the whole of Greece’s economy.
In the past, campaigns across the EU have successfully stopped oil and gas projects in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, the French Cote d’Azur and Italy. A moratorium against any new oil and gas exploration and extraction activities in Greece will contribute to a sustainable future for the Mediterranean Sea.
Your support is invaluable. Sign WWF’s petition and help us protect the Mediterranean sea, its marine life, coasts and islands that are home to communities and welcome many tourists.