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Measures

We have to stop moving because this virus can’t move on its own.

All migrants, including asylum seekers with pending applications at immigration (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), will be treated as permanent residents until at least July 1, granting them full access to the National Health Service, welfare benefits, bank accounts, work, and rental contracts during the corona outbreak.

The Council of Ministers explained that the decision was taken ‘to reduce the risks for public health’ when maintaining the current scheduling of appointments at the immigration office, both for the border agents and the migrants and asylum seekers.

The European Commissioner for Home Affairs praised the humane approach of the left-wing government and encouraged other European countries to follow Portugal’s example.
Last year 135,000 immigrants obtained residency. Brazilians and Ukrainians make up the majority, followed by west Africans, British and French.

Portugal declared the State of Emergency on March 19 and recently extended it to April 17 with tough penalties for anyone breaking quarantine.
Suspension of non-essential services happened when only 6 had died from the virus. In Italy, this did not happen before over 1,000 people had died.

Schools in Portugal even closed before any deaths were registered.
In Spain, this happened after 84 people had died. In Italy, it took 366 and in the UK 233 deaths before schools closed.

Portugal is doing comparatively well so far. But the authorities’ advice to stay at home and keep distance has to be maintained to prevent further suffering. Researchers at the Imperial College in London suggested that without these measures deaths in Portugal could reach 70,000.

With the peak of the virus predicted in May, it is becoming increasingly clear that quarantine measures in Portugal probably have to stay in force till the end of June.
All efforts will be wasted if social distancing measures are ended too rapidly.

To finish off with a quote of the famous Dutch footballer Johan Cruijff  ‘ every disadvantage has its advantage.’
The confinement of people at home and the consequent reduction in traffic circulation and economic activities has resulted in 80% less air pollution in Lisbon, a finding also registered in other major European cities.

Stay healthy                   Fique saudável                        (pic Reuters/Público)

 

 

Airportgrief

For decades a suitable location for a second runway has been studied to take the pressure off Lisbon’s congested inner-city airport.
Ota, Alcochete, Alverca and Beja have been considered over the years and subsequently rejected.

The Socialist Government of Antonio Costa is convinced that upgrading Montijo Air Force Base 6 on the south bank of Lisbon’s Tagus estuary, is the best option.
Much against the advice of engineers, climate scientists, conservationists and civic groups.

Left-wing parties – generally supporting the government – are also against it. ‘Choosing Montijo mainly satisfies the French company VINCI which purchased Portugal’s airport at a bargain price and now wants to make as much money as possible’, stated Left Bloc coordinator Catarina Martins.

In addition, the national airline TAP refuses to fly there. ‘Montijo is for companies that fly from A to B’, in other words ‘ low-cost operators’, according to TAP, that focuses on transcontinental passengers using Lisbon as a hub.
Ryanair and EasyJet are equally uninspired as they mainly carry ‘short stay’ passengers, for whom a trip into the capital from an outlying airport is ‘a waste of time.’
A further complication is, that other major companies like British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates can’t use Montijo because the runway is 600 metres too short, increasing the probability of an accident

Moreover, at least 30.000 citizens in the Netherlands have signed a petition objecting to the ‘ecologically disastrous plan.’ It concerns the survival of Netherlands national bird – the black-tailed godwit – that returning from its winter migration from Africa to the Netherlands feeds and rests in the wetland area beside the airport site. It is estimated that between January and February around 50.000 godwits use the area.

Researchers also say birds are at risk of colliding with aircraft and will be driven away by the noise. The reaction of Secretary of State Alberto Souto de Miranda was stunning ‘people should not worry because birds are not stupid and will probably adept.’

The latest obstacle in starting construction on a 1.3 billion euro project are two Communist-led councils (Moita and Seixal) in the vicinity, which – by law – have the power to veto the plan. Even if it is supported by the government and given green light by licensing authorities. Attempts of the PS Government to persuade the largest opposition party – the centre-right PSD – to change the law accordingly, proved to be in vain.

A recent court’s ruling in the UK against the expansion of Heathrow airport – because of the British government not adequately taking into account the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – might jeopardize prime minister Costa’s plans at a global level, since with the new airport CO2 emissions will increase 700.000 tons per year.


Enjoy your day               Aproveite o dia                   
(pic Público, PtRes, 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)

 

Tagus

Tagus
Chronicle of an announced death?

‘Got a cold beer?’
The bartender from the restaurant Pedro dos Leitões in Mealhada looked straight into the weary eyes of a stocky man in a blue jacket with Ministry of Environment written on it
‘Sure man, here you are. Been busy?’
You say it. Took us ages to get decent samples.’
‘Samples? Whereof?
‘Of that paper mill nearby, in Vila Velha de Rodão. We first only got that stinking foam and had to go really deep into the river to get nice samples ’
Oh, you mean Celtejo?’
It had been in all the newspapers and every day on TV. Celtejo, the cellulose factory had caused a natural disaster last month by dumping enormous amounts of waste in the drought-inflicted Tagus, the country’s largest river. Thousands of fish had died and tourists fled the area. The excessive discharges had probably been going on secretly for years. The government had decided to a 50% cut in production until further notice and Francisco Ferreira from ZERO – the sustainable terrestrial system association – already claimed compensation from Celtejo of 150.000 euro for damage done. Cleaning of the mess was estimated to cost at least one million euro according to Portugal’s Minister of Environment,  João Matos Fernandes.
‘Yeah, that’s the one’, nodded the client and pointed to his empty glass.
But why more samples?’ said the barkeeper. I thought the case was closed and Celtejo the culprit. The party for People, Animals, and Nature (PAN) demanded yesterday immediate closure of the plant. At least that’s what I’ve heard on the news.’
‘It’s not all that easy’, grumbled the official. ‘We have to be very sure before we can shut down a big company like that. Imagine what is going to happen with its 300 employees? Vila Velha completely depends on that industry. Besides that, we have to verify if its production has been really halved.
‘OK, thanks for the beer. They are expecting the data in Lisbon as of today.’
He briskly walked around the restaurant but came to an abrupt standstill when he reached the parking lot.
‘Oh no’, he whimpered when he saw the rear window of his car smashed and his PC gone.

Computer with confidential data from the Celtejo investigation stolen in restaurant Pedro dos Leitões, Mealhada
[ Expresso 23-2-2018 ]

‘The Tagus is more beautiful than the river that flows through my village,
But the Tagus is not more beautiful than the river that flows through my village
Because the Tagus is not the river that flows through my village.

The Tagus descends from Spain
And crosses Portugal to pour into the sea.
Everyone knows this.
But few know what the river in my village is called
And where it goes to
And where it comes from.
And so, because it belongs to fewer people,
The river of my village is freer and larger.’                 (Fernando Pessoa, 1914)


Bom fim de semana            Have a nice weekend             
( photo Público)

 

 

 

Plastic

85% of all waste found on beaches in the world is plastic.

Disposable cutlery (plastic plates, cups, forks, and knives) should be forbidden in the catering industry if it is up to Portugal’s left-wing parties.

A draft legislation thereupon was submitted in July 2017 and discussed in Parliament early this year. Heloísa Apolónia – MP of the Ecological and Green Party (PEV) – explains ‘our proposal is to ban the use of plastic disposables in restaurants and bars and to look for biodegradable substitutes within 3 years.’

The director of the Hotel and Restaurant branch organization AHRESP, Jose Manuel Esteves, is not happy with the proposition and has more confidence in recycling. ‘This idea doesn’t make sense at all. If there is one sector that is exemplary for a circular economy, then it is ours.  Besides, the main users of disposables are not restaurants but institutions, hospitals, and public festivals.’

António Fonseca, the president of the Association of Bars in the Historic Center of Porto (ABZHP) – that encourages the legalization of the use of alcohol in public places – believes that the plans are irresponsible in the light of the danger glassware can cause in nightlife.

The MP of the ruling socialist party (PS) Joao Torres agrees with the proposals but doubts if a timetable of 3 years is realistic. He is more in favor of a ‘gradual implementation to enable the industry to develop sustainable alternatives’. The socialist government has therefore set up a working group and intends to present a bill on the matter in May.

To mobilize the public opinion, the Party for Animals and Nature (PAN) has written an open letter to Al Gore – former US vice-president and author of the documentary Inconvenient Truth – to involve him in their campaign in the social media to reduce plastic cutlery in Portugal (#AlGoreReplytoPan).

‘We have written this letter given his engagement in the pollution of our oceans – where the ‘plastic soup’ has meanwhile reached a size that is equivalent to 17 times the surface of Portugal – declares Andre Silva, MP of PAN. ‘The problem is too big to wait because in 10 to 20 years there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and microplastics (from cosmetics and cleaning agents) will not only have killed the fish but also entered our bodies via the food chain.’


The non-profit environment organization Quercus recently challenged the Portuguese not to use disposable plastic products for the next 40 days (#40diassemplastico), at least until Easter.


Bom fim de semana                                                  Have a great weekend

 

 

 

Polluters

Niemand minder dan de 82-jarige Sophia Loren doopte begin deze maand in Le Havre het – volgens de eigenaar – 8e wereldwonder.

De Meraviglia (‘Wonder’) is 315 meter lang,  65 meter hoog en kan bijna 6000 passagiersvervoeren. Het is daarmee het grootste in Europa gebouwde cruiseschip ter wereld.

Verleden week meerde het – op zijn eerste reis – aan in Lissabon.

Goed voor de economie

Volgens Ana Paula Vitorino, minister van Zee en Visserij, zullen dit jaar ruim 300 cruiseschepen en 500.000 passagiers de – binnenkort geheel gerenoveerde – terminal van Santa Apolónia aandoen. ‘We zien de laatste jaren een constante groei van het aantal cruiseschepen en de komende 10 jaar verwacht ik een verdubbeling van het aantal passagiers in Lissabon, aldus de minister. ‘Dat is goed voor de stad en goed voor de economie.’

Slecht voor het klimaat

Klimaatactivisten waarschuwen echter voor de enorme vervuiling, die deze megaschepen veroorzaken. ‘Bij het melden van emissies wordt de uitstoot van schepen – die dicht langs de kust varen – nooit meegerekend’, aldus Francisco Ferreira, directeur van milieuorganisatie ZERO. ‘Als de uitstoot van zwaveldioxide van deze boten zou worden meegerekend, zou dat de officieel opgegeven uitstoot bijna verdubbelen.’ ‘Met een wind, die in Portugal meestal uit het westen waait, breidt de luchtvervuiling zich over de hele kuststreek uit.

Luchtvervuiling

Zeeschepen gebruiken stookolie, de goedkoopste en smerigste diesel die er is. Dat leidt tot hoge emissie van CO2, zwaveldioxide en stikstofmonoxide. Volgens de Britse krant the Guardian en de Duitse milieuorganisatie NABU stoot een middelgroot cruiseschip net zoveel broeikasgassen uit als 5 miljoen middenklassenauto’s, die dezelfde afstand afleggen.

Maar ook voor anker in de haven – waarbij de motoren stationair blijven draaien voor de elektriciteitsvoorziening – gaat de vervuiling door en wordt per uur ruim 6 ton CO2 de lucht ingejaagd. Dat is evenveel als een Hummer produceert in een heel jaar.

Watervervuiling

Een cruiseschip met 3000 opvarenden loost per dag meer dan 100.000 liter rioolwater en produceert 7 ton afval, meldt het Amerikaanse milieuagentschap EPA. Nieuwere schepen hebben tegenwoordig waterzuiveringsinstallaties en verbrandingsinstallaties voor afval.
Maar bij het merendeel is dat nog niet het geval.

Geniet van het weekend             Tenha um excelente fim de semana