‘The next decade will be all about heat’: can Athens head off climate crisis?
By Helena Smith
Decades of reckless urban planning are catching up with the city. Pollution, densely packed neighbourhoods and traffic congestion – byproducts of an uncontrolled building spree that began in the 1950s – are still evident today.
The Greek capital has been singled out in studies on the risks posed by climate change. An analysis of 571 European cities by Newcastle University in 2018 predicted it would experience the worst increases in severe drought and heatwaves by 2050.
“Like most Athenians I’d love the city centre to be pedestrianised,” says Kostas Hadzopoulos out walking his yorkshire terrier around the freshly-planted pocket park in Pangrati, among the most congested districts in central Athens. “But a lot of these moves seem slapdash and ill-thought-out. That said, this was a rubbish dump before, and now it’s a breath of fresh air.”