Portuguese American Journal

Opinion | Portugal steps up fight against climate change – Len Port

Portugal has been at the forefront of action against climate change, but the subject of global warming is being overshadowed by fears of worsening wars. 

This week, the prime ministers of Poland and the United Kingdom announced plans to prepare for a war across Europe, unprecedented since World War ll. They were referring to the possible spread westward across the continent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In a two-hour speech in Paris on Thursday, French President Macron warned that Europe may “die” unless the Union’s 27 member states become much more ambitious. They must turn Europe into a superpower, not dependent on the United States if it is to survive and thrive in this fast-changing world.

President Biden signed into law a $95 billion package of United States war aid to help Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other global hotspots.

Major economic challenges are troubling nations worldwide due to geopolitical tensions, inflation, health crises, food insecurity, and a worsening outlook for developing countries.

Portugal is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but in recent years it has managed to focus on expanding renewables and energy efficiency while cutting reliance on imported fossil fuels. This has balanced plans for reaching a carbon-neutral (net zero) economy that would support the country’s economic growth and energy security, predicted the International Energy Agency.

Portugal’s energy and climate policies aim to reach carbon neutrality primarily through broad electrification of energy demand, a rapid expansion of renewable electricity generation, and increased energy efficiency. These measures have been backed by a strong focus on reducing dependency on energy imports and maintaining affordable access to energy.

Last year Portugal doubled its 2030 goals for solar and green hydrogen capacity. It is also helping people to live and travel more sustainably. However, heatwaves and wildfires across southern Europe have made it painfully clear how little time remains to avert climate catastrophes.

European countries are under pressure to reach net zero by striking a balance between emitting greenhouse gases and mitigating them. Each country has unique resources, so it is carving its own route to a greener future.

The newly center-right elected PSD/AD government will no doubt pursue Portugal’s transition goals, but it will not be able to depend on support from the far-right Chega party. The far-left Chega party and other radical populist groups in Europe have different agendas on coping with climate change, just as they do on which side to support in the war in Ukraine, plus the possibility of Russia pushing westward.

Also alarmingly contentious, the far-right Reform party in the UK, for example, insists that net zero is the wrong approach because it is damaging livelihoods and the economy.

Net zero means reducing man-made CO2 emissions to stop climate change that has been happening for millions of years before man-made emissions, and it will always change. We are better off accepting warming than pretending we can stop it. Up to ten times more people die of cold than warmth. In Roman Britain some 2,000 years ago, it was two degrees warmer than now. Grapes for wine were grown in Yorkshire,” says the Reform UK.


Len Port, born in Northern Ireland, worked as a news reporter and correspondent, mainly in Hong Kong and South Africa, before moving to Portugal many years ago.

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