Tag Archive for: climate change

According to Eurostat, Portugal’s GDP dropped this year by 5,4%, the greatest fall in Europe! Rating agency Moody declared, that Portugal is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic as small and medium-sized companies represent a large proportion of the GDP and its high dependency on tourism. The IMF is pessimistic about the recovery, expecting only a small surplus of +0,5% from 2024 onward.

Fortunately, the energy transition gains momentum.
Closure of the coal-fired power plant in Sines means a 12% reduction in the national emission of greenhouse gases every year!

If it is up to the socialist government, Portugal will become a major producer and exporter of green hydrogen (H2) gas. If all goes well, there could be 50-100 hydrogen stations by 2030, and is the percentage of hydrogen incorporated in the national gas network 10-15%.

A planned 1.5 billion industrial project near the deepwater port of Sines will produce 1GW of renewable electricity from solar and wind and 1 GW of green hydrogen from electrolyzers, provided the EU co-finances this integrated ecosystem.

Another climate-friendly project is the initiative of the Water Treatment Plant (ETA) to become neutral in energy consumption. This so-called ClorH20 program combines the production of hydrogen with that of chlorine, necessary for the disinfection of water. Instead of importing liquid chlorine, ETA will build an electrolyzer, that not only produces hydrogen but chlorine gas as well.

A British-US consortium is to invest 3.5 billion euros to build one of Europe’s largest sustainable data centers with access to trans-Atlantic fiber-optic cables in the port of Sines. Dubbed Sines 4.0, the center – with a 450 MW capacity and a zero carbon footprint  – is expected to create up to 8,000 highly qualified jobs by 2025.

On the first of June the submarine optic cable EllaLink – connecting Europe to South America – was inaugurated in Sines by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council.

Local Braga company Rosseti Engenharia has signed a 23 million contract for a mega solar parc in the Alentejo province, capable of generating 100 GWh, enough to provide over 30,000 homes with green electricity.

Environmentalists warn that the race to embrace solar energy can have disastrous effects on the environment if these parks  – some of them stretching over 1,000 hectares – are being built in sensitive areas. 

Lithium – a key ingredient in batteries for electric vehicles and mobile phones – plays an essential role in the energy decarbonization agenda. As the north and center of the country have an abundance of this so-called ‘white gold,’ Portugal is keen to play its part. However, tenders for possible exploration are to exclude natural parks and Natura 2000 areas.

As a result of this ruling, the Government decided this year to cancel a contentious 500 million lithium mining project in the uppermost northern Montalegre region, a United Nations Agricultural Heritage site.

Keep fit                                  Fique saudável            (pic Ptnews/Ptresid)

Climate change in Portugal varies from wildfires to storms

Although the world’s C02 emissions are expected to fall by 8% this year – as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down much of the global economy.- the reduced emissions are very unlikely to have a serious impact on the global levels of carbon dioxide.

The target laid out in the Paris agreement would require at least similar reductions every year in the decades to come.

Climate change in Portugal varies from wildfires to storms. On September 13 the country suffered the largest forest fire of the year whilst only one week later sub-cyclone Alpha ravaged the central districts of Leiria and Coimbra.

Global warming is going to bring more tropical cyclones moving north and eastward from the Atlantic ocean.

Three years ago strong winds and heat from passing hurricane Ophelia fanned more than 150 wildfires, claiming the lives of at least 45 citizens. And last year the Azores were hit by Lorenzo, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Central North Atlantic, with winds blowing at 260 km/hour.

Although the pandemic decreases air pollution and waste production – the last mainly as a result of the collapsing tourism industry –these changes are most likely temporarily, as the rapid rebound in air pollution and coal consumption to pre-Covid levels across China shows.

Moreover, the increase of plastic disposables during the pandemic– like masks, gloves, gowns, face shields and take-away packages – poses a serious threat to the environment, in particular to the oceans. Every year 230,000 tons of plastic are dumped into the Mediterranean. Various environmental NGO’s, therefore, argue not to use disposable but reusable masks by those who don’t belong to a risk group.

Besides the damage done by the pandemic to the environment, long-term exposure to atmospheric pollution –already linked to heart/lung damage and premature death – may have increased Portugal’s risk of death from Covid by 11%, putting new emphasis on why the disease appears to be most prevalent in metropolitan areas.

Keep distance      Stay healthy                  (pic público/sapo)

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)

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)

‘There is no planet B’

Portugal prepares to vote in Sunday’s general election.
With thousands of youngsters filling the streets at Lisbon’s Global Climate strike, one wonders how ‘green in fact its political parties are?

The centre-right Social Democrat party (PSD) recognizes ‘the state of emergency the planet is in’ but only presents measures enhancing the country’s ‘adaptation to climate change’ by limiting urban expansion in risk zones and favouring garden roofs. The PSD argues the energy sector to adapt but doesn’t specify how.

For the ruling Socialist party (PS) climate change adaptation is also needed. But that isn’t enough. The party defines concrete targets for 2030 and others for 2050, such as carbon neutrality. The PS wishes to reinforce the capacity of wind farms and – faced with extreme weather – extend forecasting and warning systems. Empowering farmers ‘to adopt good practices’ is also called for.

The Left Bloc (BE) is in favour of a Climate Law, an Energy Base Law and a Ministry of Climate Action. The far-left party advocates the end of fossil fuel car production by 2025 and coal-fired power generation by 2023, in the meantime accelerating solar production. It also intends to ban cars from city centres and strives for free public transport, favouring investment in ‘rail mode’.

The Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU) – an electoral coalition between Communists and ecologist Greens – rejects green taxation, the concept of user pays and CO2 licensing. Instead, the railway network should be modernized with ‘high-speed connections’ from Lisbon to Porto and the Spanish border. It also advocates a Forest Policy based on traditional ecosystems.

The millennium Animal and Nature party (PAN) – founded in 2009 – wants vegetarian meals at state-sponsored events, prevention of any exploitation of hydrocarbons and the closure of all coal plants by 2023. Furthermore financial benefits for cycling to work, measures to reduce car traffic, restrictions on night air traffic and the suspension of the construction of a new airport.

For the rightwing Christen Democrats (CDS) a Climate Law for carbon neutrality is warranted. The party wishes to materialize an energy transition with transparency in the energy market’. Other objectives include ‘green’ entrepreneurship, full electrification and expansion of the railways.

However, the level of commitment of all six major parties is far too low, argues a group of independent citizens, analysing the elections programs. None of the parties mentions sufficient steps to reach the 96 goals (metas) defined in the Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality.
The PS – with 40 targets – comes first, which is not surprising given that the Roadmap is an initiative of the current socialist government. The CDU closes the peloton with only 13 targets covered. PAN proposes the most CO2 reduction measures and BE is the party that most concretises the actions to achieve carbon neutrality.

The polls suggest António Costa’s Socialist party will win but fall short of an absolute majority in parliament.
If the climate were to choose, it would be a coalition of the Socialist party and the Left Bloc or the PAN- which is less ideologically fixed.

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

“The planet is witnessing the appearance of new creatures, ones that have already conquered all continents. At first glance, they seem very delicate and frail but this is an illusion – they are long-lived, almost indestructible: their fleeting bodies won’t decompose for some three hundred more years.
These plastic bags are empty on the inside, and this historic foregoing of all contents unexpectedly affords them great evolutionary benefits”
( Olga Tokarczuk in Flights – Man Booker International 2018)

Plastic has proven to be indispensable in our global economy; most is used as packing material. Despite the fact that over 13 million tons of plastic are annually dumped into our oceans – every minute a truckload – the global production of plastic is still on the increase.

In Europe circa 30% of plastic is recycled.
If it is up to the Portuguese Parliament plastic bags – as well as plastic packing material for fruit, vegetables and bread – will be forbidden from June 2020.

Every Portuguese citizen produces about 480 kg of garbage per year (~ 1,3 kg per day), just as much as the average European. However, the separate collection of paper, glass and plastic in Portugal is still very limited and only 10-15% recycled.

Since the tourist boom some seven years ago, urban waste production in the capital has nearly doubled. Especially downtown Cais do Sodré, Misericórdia and Bairro Alto, where most tourists stay and the nightlife takes place – garbage accumulates. It leaves no doubt that – besides separation of waste – the frequency of collection services has to be intensified.

Another major polluter is the textile industry, the second largest after the oil industry. Although one can nowadays buy a T-shirt and a pair of jeans for almost no money, few people realize the enormous footprint – of nearly 15.000 litres of water – it takes to produce them. The manufactory of clothing has doubled in the last 15 years, whereas its lifespan was halved. Fast fashion rules!

Each year the Portuguese throw away 200,000 tons of textile (~20 kg per person). Although in some places – e.g. Braga –selective collection of textile takes place, the majority of unwanted clothes end up in the incinerator or on the garbage dump.

Bom fim de semana              Enjoy the weekend            
(pics Sapo/DN/Público)


‘When traveling from Amsterdam last Sunday, the incoming TAP flight was delayed by an hour. Although they had to change terminals, no information whatsoever was given to the passengers. On arrival in Lisbon, they had to remain seated in the plane for about 20 minutes, due to lack of transport to the main building. Once arrived at the assembly line, they had to wait another 45 minutes to get their suitcases and subsequently stood 30 minutes in the queue to catch a cab to the city center!’

With the vigorous rise in the number of flights to Lisbon over the past 10 years – and a subsequent increase in passengers from 13 to 27 million – complaints about Humberto Delgado Airport have doubled since 2015. Delays at departure, on arrival, at customs ( especially when arriving from a non-Schengen destination) and delays in communication. ‘TAP is always delayed’, you often hear from fellow passengers and water bottles have become standard equipment in the long waiting queues.

Lisbon Airport is congested and overcrowded, a victim of a booming tourism industry. Records are broken every year. On the 22nd of June, 680 flight movements – take-offs and landings – were reported, an all-time high. That same month, the airport had to cancel even more flights than Heathrow, that handles three times as many passengers per year.

Nevertheless, growth is skyrocketing and a further boost of 10 million passengers is expected over the next 5 years. The 75 years old airport certainly can’t cope, despite its clean appearance, tasty food, and nice shops.
To alleviate the constraints, the government seriously considers renovating a former military airbase in Montijo – across the Tagus – that could be made operational for civil aviation by 2022.

The ecological movement ZERO criticises the lack of transparency in the decision-making and fears the impact on the flora and fauna in the nearby Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve and noise pollution for the approximately 55.000 residents in the area. It demands a proper environmental evaluation, including alternative sites for the complementary airstrip. If the government doesn’t meet these requirements, the environmentalists will go to court and eventually proceed to the European Commission. The aviation lobby warns that further postponement will cost the treasury each year 600 million euros in revenues, from tourism alone.

Bom fim de semana                   Have a great weekend                 
(pic Público)




Quando oiei a terra ardendo                        When I saw the burned land
Qua fogueira de São João                              Like the ‘bonfire of Saint John’
Eu perguntei a Deus do céu, uai                   I asked the Lord in heaven, ai
Por que tamanha judiação?                          Do I deserve this suffering?

Que braseiro, que fornaia                              What a heat, what a furnace
Nem um pê de prantação                               Not even a single plant survives
Por farta d’água, perdi meu gado               For lack of water, I lost my cattle
moreu de sede meu alazão                            My best horse died of thirst

https://youtu.be/DNBCw7r0mwU                 [ Asa Branca, Luiz Gonzaga, 1947 ]

July turned out to be one of the driest months in the past 17 years. Water levels in dams and basins have dropped substantially.

Last week the Meteorological Institute classified 99% of the land as dry – 80% even as very or extremely dry – especially the Southern and Eastern part of the country.

So far government’s response has been limited with the creation of an ‘Interdepartmental Committee on Drought Monitoring.
Experts, like João Deniz from the National Confederation of Agriculture, are concerned. ‘The situation is becoming worse every day. The government is far too optimistic. They are no farmers and should be more worried.’
He remembers the severe drought in 2005, when – South of the river Tagus – more than 120 cattle died every day due to lack of rain. Cereal production fell by 60%, wine with 30% and the production of honey was almost eliminated.

The drought of 2005 hasn’t learned us a lesson’, says Nelson Geada, president of the Portuguese Association of Water Distribution and Drainage. ‘Things tend to get worse due to climate change. One-third of the country already faces degradation and aridity of soils, especially the interior of the Algarve and the Alentejo. It is the time that the country starts preparing itself for the future, instead of praying for rain, like people used to do.’

Quercus, an environmental NGO is also critical on government policy. ‘Drought not only compromises agriculture and livestock but lack of vegetation also leads to an increase of CO₂ and further global warming, wildfires, poverty, and emigration.

Although water is scarce, wine is not!
Portugal has the highest wine consumption in the world with a mean intake of 54 liters per person per year ( followed closely by France with 52 liters ).

Wine and not water has to keep Portugal going this summer. Not dry wine of course.

Bom fim de semana
                                                                                                                                 (photos Público/SAPO)

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.


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.


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