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Greeny

We need the indifferent, the conformed and the sceptics
We need those who recycle excuses and nothing else
We even need those who do not harm
(Lisbon City Council)

Lisbon is Europe’s Green Capital 2020. A recognition of the work the city has been done over the past years towards a greener and more people-friendly city (www.lisboagreencapital2020.com)

Halving of the municipal water use by putting a new drainage plan into place. A 30% reduction in consumption through investment in renewable energy. Nine out of ten municipality vehicles running on electricity. Expansion of the public transport network with cheaper tickets for metro, bus and ferryboat.
Extension of bicycle lanes to a total of 90 km. Selective waste collection up to 38% with 212 underground containers installed. A 250 hectares increase in green zones and 85% of the population living within 300 metres of a green area.

To date, the capital has around 800.000 trees. Lisbon’s biggest – 10 km² sized – Monsanto park, not only generates much-desired shadow but captures CO2 as well. One of the first initiatives of the City Council in January has been the planting of 20.000 extra trees. Another 80.000 will follow later this year.

But are the measures taken enough when science shows that climate emergency is real and that action must be swift and decisive?

Taking into consideration that the transport sector is responsible for 25% of the greenhouse emissions, it is amazing that 70% of the Portuguese still use their private car for urban transport with half of these vehicles running on diesel.
Although the sale of electric cars doubled in 2019, compared to the previous year, there are only 1000 public charging points in the whole country! A number that needs to increase to 20.000 over the next five years.

It is difficult to understand why the city is mobilized to be the Green Capital 2020 when major political decisions point into the opposite direction. Such as the ongoing expansion of Portela airport in the heart of the city, whose noise and emissions are detrimental to health. Or the construction of a brand new cruise terminal responsible for 10% of total national emissions and 3,5 times more sulfur dioxide emissions than all cars in the capital.

If Lisbon wants to be a genuine Green Capital, stronger measures to mitigate the effects of climate change are promptly required.

Aproveite a sua semana              Enjoy the week            (pic Público/Sapo)

Choking

Contrary to what was hoped for, global CO2 emissions actually increased in 2018.

Every major city in Europe is warmer in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. In December 2015, 195 member states of the UN agreed in the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature increase to 1.5⁰C above preindustrial levels. For several cities on the Iberian Peninsula, this 1.5⁰C threshold has already been reached.

In Lisbon – situated on the Atlantic Coast – the average temperature increased 0.5⁰C and the number of hot days (24-hour average temperature above 24⁰C) nearly doubled since 2000.

Even limited temperature increases have severe consequences. A hotter atmosphere can absorb more water leading to severe floods between longer and dryer periods. Heatwaves lead to excess mortality and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever has been creeping North with epidemics in Portugal in 2012. Recent research shows that when the daily temperature increases above 22⁰C, cognitive abilities of schoolchildren decrease.

The expectations are that the Mediterranean will heat up more than the global mean, resulting in a substantial decrease in the production of hydroelectric energy of which Portugal is more dependent than the Northern European countries.

Although Portugal had in 2018 the highest reduction in CO2 emissions of all EU member states, CO2 emissions of its national airline TAP  skyrocketed in the last 2 years. This was mainly the result of an explosive 30% increase in the number of passengers.
Booming tourism has become the main money-spinner generating annually more than € 14 billion in government revenues but the downside is pollution.

Portela airport – with more than 650 flight movements per day – knows few restrictions for night flights with planes coming in just a hundred meters above rooftops.

Ultrathin particles are 20 times higher close to the airport than elsewhere in the city. Measurements of inner-city noise levels taken by the environmental group ZERO showed noise pollution for more than 400.000 people with levels above the legal limits of more than 16 dB at night and 10 dB during daytime.

About 300 giant cruise ships – with at least 600.000 passengers to embark – are every year docking at a brand-new (€ 50 million) terminal. Even though only 2 years old there is no portside electricity for the moored vessels.

Massive amounts of particulate matter and sulphur dioxide (SO2) have made Lisbon’s port the sixth most polluting in Europe.
SO2 emissions from those ships are 85% higher than those emitted by Portugal’s entire car traffic over a year.

Climate change can only be achieved by keeping hydrocarbons in the ground and capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Neither option has produced any result so far.

In order to prevent global warming catastrophe policymakers have to get serious about a carbon tax set high enough to price oil, coal and gas out of the market says William Nordhaus, one of the winners of last year’s Nobel Prize for economics.

Bom fim de semana          Enjoy your weekend          (pic Público/Observador)