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Carbon neutrality by 2030 in Portugal

In order to halt the climate crisis within the time frame dictated by science and on the basis of global justice, Portugal must achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

What carbon neutrality means and why by 2030

Carbon neutrality means zero net emissions, i.e. emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) equivalent to the amount of carbon absorbed in the so-called carbon sinks located in the country or territory in question, be they forests, oceans or soils. According to the IPCC, global carbon neutrality should be achieved by the early 2040s. Given the historical responsibility of the countries of the Global North, due to their major contribution to the climate crisis, they must achieve neutrality sooner. And that's where the 2030 target comes in.

You can see HERE why carbon neutrality after 2030 (2040, 2050, ...) won't stop the climate crisis in time.

How to achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2030

There are many fantasies about capturing emissions. Current corporate responses are based on non-existent or untested technologies in order to continue legitimizing the use of fossil fuels. However, a diversified forest with indigenous trees can actually create some resilience in the territories and at the same time absorb carbon from the atmosphere. There are many technical limitations to afforestation, notably the duration of growth and the risk of fires.

Therefore, the main line towards carbon neutrality is the decarbonization of all sectors of the economy. In the energy sector (electricity, heating and mobility) this is relatively easy. What may take longer is agriculture and food, because a transition implies simultaneous conversion of production, land use and consumption. The Jobs for Climate campaign report explains how all this can be done by creating thousands of new public jobs.

That's how necessary it is:

The closure of the Sines refinery by 2025.

• Stop burning biomass to produce electricity.

• Let this be the last gas winter: stop generating electricity from gas, with the closure of the 4 "natural" gas electricity generation plants by 2025.

• Stop the manufacture of new cars powered by fossil fuels.

• Reduce energy needs, for example in the manufacturing industry, through rationalization and localization, anchoring production to people's real needs and dismantling the consumerism fed by overproduction.

• Create a public renewable energy and public transport service, which guarantees the replacement of energy from polluting sources with energy from renewable sources, managed by people and for people.

100% renewable and affordable electricity by 2025 in Portugal

Ceasing to produce electricity using natural gas (which still accounts for around 30% to 40% of the electricity consumed in Portugal), and increasing electricity production capacity using renewable energies.

Every month that passes and a just transition plan is not implemented means that the transition will be more abrupt. In order to stop the climate crisis, i.e. stop the increase in fires, heat waves, floods and lack of access to water, we need to stop using fossil fuels.

In Portugal, fossil gas is mostly used to produce electricity. Energy is a right, not a luxury. Electricity produced 100% by renewable energies is cheaper and can even be free. The peace and energy sovereignty plan that will stop climate change and get us out of the crisis of rising living costs is 100% renewable electricity accessible to all families by 2025 in Portugal.

The implementation of this measure involves:

• Increase the installed capacity of renewable energy production, with an energy mix of Wind, Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Hydro, Concentrated Solar and Ocean.

• Adapting the electrical network by installing smart grids

• Ensuring the stability and inertia of the network through more interconnections and hydropower.

For more information see the article “100% renewable electricity by 2025” of the Climate Jobs Campaign.

Creation of a public, renewable and free public transport service

Creation of a service that implements a national plan that meets people’s needs, with a main body made up of rail, surrounded by public, collective and electric road transport, and complemented by lighter options such as bicycles and walking.

More railroads - Expansion of the national and international rail network: investment in regional trains - guaranteeing an electric and renewable rail system as well as rail links between all districts by 2024 - and international trains - with the immediate reinstatement of the Lisbon to Madrid night train - for a significant increase in accessibility by rail and a reduction in the use of road and air transport.

National electric road transport network: Creation of a public company dedicated to the development of a national electrified public road transport network that offers a regular and flexible electric road transport service suited to the needs of the population. This will include electric buses and an investment in shared mobility.

Urban Rail Mobility - Expansion of metropolitan rail networks: investment in metro and suburban trains in Lisbon and Porto for a significant increase in urban public mobility and a drastic reduction in individual transportation. Expansion and consolidation of the cycling network, along with permanent car-free zones.

Virtually zero aviation by 2030

Reducing emissions from aviation requires a significant reduction in the volume of flights, with a decrease in commercial aviation and giving priority only to flights for humanitarian emergencies and long distances that have no alternative method of transportation.

Aviation is the most damaging form of transportation for the climate and, before the pandemic, it was also the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases. Civil aviation emissions were responsible for 5.9% of all global warming from human activity in 2018. Half of this impact was caused by frequent flyers, who represent just 1% of the world's population. Meanwhile, more than 80% of the world's population has never been on an airplane.

One of the major problems facing the aviation industry is the current lack of technological solutions to make air traffic emission-free: electrifying aviation is not a viable option in the coming decades and substitutes for fossil kerosene, such as biofuels and synthetic fuels ("e-fuels"), cannot be produced in the quantity required without damaging consequences. This is why reducing aviation emissions requires a significant reduction in the volume of flights.

Aviation must be operated within the limits of countries' and the planet's emissions budgets. Priority must be given to flights according to need, such as for humanitarian emergencies or when there is no alternative method of transportation.

Accept that the government and companies are at war with society and the planet.

There are 2 major industrial transformations needed to stop the climate crisis:

1) stop burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and heat, switching to electrification and renewable sources;

2) cutting emissions associated with industrial processes by at least half.

Replacing fossil fuels with electrification and investing in energy efficiency: In almost all industrial applications, there are already alternative, commercially viable technologies that enable electrification. The only function of energy in industry whose electrification still faces technical difficulties is to achieve very high temperatures, which are necessary, for example, in the production of cement and steel. While we invest in the development of electrical technologies to achieve these temperatures, we can immediately use biogas and biomass from municipal waste and agroecology to reduce emissions. In addition to electrification, strong energy efficiency measures will also be needed.

Transformation of industrial processes: There are emissions that result from the occurrence of certain chemical processes that are part of the industrial processes to manufacture cement or some products from the chemical industry. To reduce these emissions, it is necessary to

- Reduce production according to an assessment of real needs;
- Promote collection, reuse and recycling;
- Replace products with equivalent ones;
- Manufacture the same products using different processes with fewer emissions, i.e. using technological innovations. Here, hydrogen produced on site using renewable energy sources could play an important role.

Energy sufficiency

Energy efficiency means managing the production of goods and services with a focus on what is really necessary for society, excluding all unnecessary expenditure, for example energy spent on advertising and marketing.

At a time of transition when we are facing various energy challenges, we need to prioritize real needs and make collective choices about energy use. Energy sufficiency is different from energy efficiency. For example, buying a new car with lower gasoline consumption is an example of energy efficiency, while introducing public transport to reduce the use of individual transport would be an energy sufficiency policy.

The key measures for an intervention of this nature are:

- The introduction of better farming practices.

- Localizing energy production, stopping unnecessary use - such as energy spent on advertising, the financial system and maintaining large databases that have little social value.

- Investment in collective public transport and shared mobility systems, which make the use of individual vehicles unnecessary.

Circular economy and waste reduction

Waste emits 4.6 Mt CO2, most of which comes from municipal and industrial waste. This is almost 7% of total emissions and represents half of methane emissions.

We need to stop producing waste, starting with stopping programmed obsolescence and disposable consumption and investing in repair and reuse. The economy and production must be based on people’s real needs.

Reducing consumption by stopping planned obsolescence: There is a consensus that we need to consume less. However, this usually comes in the context of ecological austerity, based on individual sacrifices that are almost impossible in the current production system. In order to reduce total energy consumption, we have to rationalize production and focus on long use cycles for all products, particularly the most energy-intensive ones. This means having appliances with lifetime warranties and electronic devices that can be updated and repaired.
At the moment, these options don't even exist. When they do exist, it's almost always cheaper and easier to buy a new appliance instead of trying to replace a part. Companies know how to produce resistant products, but they don't do it because it doesn't generate profit. We need strong regulation against programmed obsolescence and we need to remember or reinvent the culture of fixing and repairing. This will also contribute to reducing imports, improving the balance of trade and reducing emissions associated with maritime transport.

Improving waste management, starting with

Avoiding waste right from production, reducing packaging and finding new (and perhaps very old) ways of producing things that last longer;
• Investing in repair and reuse, through circular economy concepts and policies;
• Close the organic circles via composting.
• Betting on recycling only for industrial products;
• For existing landfills and waste scattered in the oceans, forests and roads, recycling and mechanical treatment are necessary. Only as a last resort and only for existing waste should we consider so-called energy recovery, which involves incineration and energy production via biogas. But in this case, the existing capacity, built on the assumption that there would always be more and more waste, is already sufficient and no new infrastructure is needed.

Regenerative agroecology

We must implement Regenerative Agroecology systems that aim to:

1) Drastically reduce the sources of emissions in the sector and increase carbon sinks, in order to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation (increasing carbon sequestration in agricultural soils and permanent plant biomass; and increasing the resilience of agro-ecosystems and food systems to shocks and extreme events);

2) Increase the efficiency of resource use (nutrients, light, water, energy, etc.) (“ecological intensification”), prioritizing the use of local resources and clean energies;

3) Create decent jobs in the sector.

To do this, we must:

• Betting on bio-diverse agroecological and agroforestry systems, which seek to optimize the use of natural resources and apply ecological principles in their design and management through the diversification of species and crops in space, time and landscape;

Reduce the use of inorganic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides and other external inputs;

• Reintroduce the use of legumes in rotations;

Drastically reduce the livestock sector, adopt systems that enable effective management of livestock effluents, extensify ruminant and granivorous livestock production and reterritorialize livestock systems in agricultural areas, integrating animals into agroecological and agroforestry agroecosystems.

• Redistribute natural pastures throughout the territory and develop agro-ecological infrastructures to cover 10% of the cultivated area;

• Invest in urban agroecology to bring producers and consumers closer together, reduce food waste, increase the use of household waste and reduce the use of chemical inputs (which ensure that products withstand long journeys);

• In addition, it will be necessary to invest in more research, experimentation and demonstration appropriate to specific contexts, accompanied by inspection and training and by structures that support and bring together local producers.

Zero-emission food system

It is possible to build a zero-emission food system by reducing animal products, public canteens and composting.

Note: the transportation and processing of agricultural products will be emission-free due to the creation of 100% renewable energy and transportation services.

•  Reducing food waste and increasing the reuse and composting of organic household waste;

• Suspend imports of food products (processed or unprocessed) from countries where their production has intense social, climatic and environmental impacts.

•  To drastically reduce the consumption of animal products and increase the presence of vegetable proteins, fruits and vegetables in diets, prioritizing local and seasonal products, and increasing the proximity between producers and consumers;

•  Adopt healthier and more balanced diets according to nutritional recommendations;

• Implement an extensive network of vegan public canteens, staffed by nutritionists and prioritizing the use of local, seasonal and organic products;

• Implement one day a week of vegan food in all public canteens, accompanied by nutritionists.

There must also be a de-mercantilization of all seeds and an end to all genetic patents.

Fighting and preventing fires

Rising temperatures are leading to more and more fires. So, in order to protect people and reduce the burning of forests and plantations, which is further exacerbating the climate crisis, we need to start by:

I) Creating a national forest register;
ii) Valuing and strengthening forest rangers and nature watchers;
iii) Valuing and strengthening professional firefighting;

Creating a forest register: We need fewer fires and less burned area. This means having a total forest register of the national territory, and what is abandoned must be taken over by the state. Abandoned areas must be managed, not by the current chaotic structures, but by an institution created for this purpose that values small landowners and rural, agricultural and forestry diversification. It is known which species should be in which territories and also the climate forecasts for these territories in the future, so the articulation of this information should guide land use planning from now on, banning production forests in areas especially suitable for conservation and favoring species that will be useful for the territory and the populations in the future, with a view to preserving soil and water and, whenever desirable, boosting their multiple use. Read more here.

Valuing and reinforcing forest rangers and nature watchers: Valuing nature watchers by guaranteeing the daily presence of these professionals, 365 days a year, with the necessary resources to protect our forests, woodlands and marine prairies.

Valuing and strengthening professional firefighting: Hiring professional firefighters paid by the state, investing in the resources necessary for the management and preservation of Portugal's forest resources and the survival of local populations.

Public housing

Housing is a basic human need and a universal human right. If water is nationalized in order to guarantee this right, so should housing. True peace will only be achieved when no one is forced to live without a home.

As the country is completely full of buildings, many of them public, which are currently abandoned and have no plans for future use, these buildings should be repurposed for public housing. Abandoned buildings only serve a speculative bubble with artificial scarcity. A state that, in a housing crisis and during the biggest refugee crisis the planet has ever seen, chooses to serve this bubble rather than the needs of the people has chosen its side as the enemy of life.

The implementation of public housing will involve:

- Making all abandoned buildings public, turning them into public housing.
- Guaranteeing homes for all people.
- Autonomy and energy efficiency in housing.
- Planning the territory with the participation of the people who live there, outlining community solutions that guarantee that social reproduction is shared equitably and uses resources efficiently.

Autonomy and energy efficiency in buildings

In order to overcome energy poverty in Portugal – one of the EU countries where people die the most from the cold – and guarantee homes that are resistant to heat waves – without increasing emissions linked to air conditioning – it is necessary to invest in autonomy and energy efficiency in buildings, giving priority to public buildings.

In order to reduce emissions from buildings, it is also necessary to renovate the building stock and establish regulations for renovations and new construction.

Autonomy and energy efficiency: On the one hand, buildings need to be equipped with heating systems powered by renewable energy sources and, on the other, the passive energy efficiency of buildings needs to be improved - better insulation of the roof, walls, façades and glazing. Public buildings such as schools, hospitals, courts and central and municipal administration buildings consume energy (electricity and heating) because they produce services for society. Their transformation is a priority. With efficient thermal insulation and the application of solar panels to produce electricity and heating, these buildings can become self-sufficient.

Recovering the building stock and establishing regulations for works and new construction: making use of abandoned buildings reduces the need to build new homes, which has a direct impact on emissions, for example through the production of cement. For work on existing homes and for new construction, a high level of regulation must be established to reduce the use of cement and steel, incorporate photovoltaic panels, invest in buildings with energy autonomy, and increase green spaces around buildings, as well as on roofs, walls and interiors.

Creating Jobs for the Climate and a Public Renewable Energy Service

In order to implement the necessary transformations in the time required, it is essential to create thousands of new public jobs in the key sectors for the transition – climate jobs – and a public renewable energy service – which coordinates the management of all electricity production in Portugal to ensure a just transition.

Climate Jobs: these are new jobs created in the public sector, from a public service perspective, in key sectors for the transition (such as energy, transport, industry, construction, agriculture and forestry), and which have a direct impact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. They prioritize employment for workers in polluting sectors through retraining. The report "Jobs for the Climate" (2021), produced by a collective of academics, trade unionists and environmentalists, argues that 200-250 thousand new jobs will be needed in key sectors of the economy, mainly in the areas of renewable energies, transport, construction, agriculture and forestry.

Public Renewable Energy Service: a service that generates all electricity production in Portugal from exclusively renewable sources from 2025 onwards, guarantees a fair transition and ensures universal access to renewable energy. For the Public Renewable Energy Service to meet its objectives, it will have to:
I) control the electricity sector and the various stages that electricity goes through: production, transportation, distribution and supply
II) own EDP, REN and the remaining dam concessions in Portugal.

Purposeful, decent and democratically managed employment for all people

Everyone must be actively involved in stopping the climate crisis. Everyone has the right to useful and dignified work. Unnecessary jobs to stop the climate crisis and build social peace must be replaced by climate jobs and jobs in basic service sectors. All jobs need to guarantee working rights, including the right to vacations, decent pay and fair working hours – with a phased reduction to 32 hours a week. Workplaces must be democratic, with everyone actively participating in decisions about working conditions.

Reduction to 32 hours a week: People need free time to make more sustainable choices. When a person has little time to travel between work and home or to any other activity, individual transportation will be the preferred option. When a person has little time to cook at home, they will eat whatever is cheapest in a fast-food store or choose pre-cooked food. Other beneficial effects of reduced working hours include: increased productivity; a reduction in health problems and sick leave (with an equivalent reduction in costs for the National Health Service); greater involvement in social and local activities, which leads to greater social cohesion, and more sustainable living practices. The first step, consensual in the trade union movement in Portugal, is equality between the public and private sectors, reducing the maximum working week to 35 hours in the private sector too, which can be achieved gradually and in stages. The second step would be to combat chronic precariousness in all sectors, tackle the increasing automation of production processes and guarantee decent and stable jobs for everyone, aiming for the ideal of full employment, by gradually reducing the working week to 32 hours a week, in all sectors simultaneously, by 2030.

Income justice at the service of the climate - the 1% pay

Tax higher incomes and large companies to finance the energy transition.

Today's societies are torn by two contrasts: on the one hand, inequalities are tremendous, with the ultra-rich accumulating more and more wealth and income, and on the other, an unprecedented mobilization of resources is needed to drive the energy transition.
We therefore call for an energy transition financed by new taxes on the richest 1% and on companies - especially those that have made colossal profits due to the cost of living crisis and the new regime of high interest rates.

A 99% personal income tax rate from 150,000 euros per year: Personal Income Tax (IRS) covers not only income from employment, which is how the tax affects most ordinary people, but also on capital income, such as dividends from companies, rents from real estate, capital gains from the sale of financial assets, among others. This tax works on the basis of brackets. When a person's income reaches a certain amount, income above that amount enters a new bracket and is taxed at a higher percentage, but income below that amount is taxed at the percentages corresponding to the previous brackets. Establish a new maximum IRS bracket, applied to incomes above 150,000 euros gross per year, with taxation set at 99%.

Getting out of trade treaties

Repudiate unfair trade treaties such as CETA and the EU-Mercosur agreement under negotiation, which exclusively serve the interests of multinationals against people and the environment. Reject participation in anti-democratic mechanisms such as ISDS to resolve trade disputes.

Portugal is bound by various dispute settlement systems and international trade agreements that tie up the chances of breaking away from fossil fuels. Through these, the big multinationals - including those that profit from fossil fuels - can fight policies that jeopardize their destructive interests. Breaking out of these is essential if we are to pursue the policies we need to fight the war against us and build peace.

Divestment from the security forces and military industry, investing in social services.

Disinvestment in security forces and the military industry, allocating it to the care sector, social services and a national climate service.

Disinvesting in security forces and the military industry - used to subjugate and impose colonialist and racist forms of oppression and exploitation, and also responsible for a considerable share of emissions - and investing in the creation of a "national climate service" to manage the energy transition and in zero-emission jobs in the care and nature protection sector.

Retraining security and military industry workers in dignified and useful jobs for society.

Dismantling Fossil Colonialism

When the colonialist armies and bureaucrats left the countries of the Global South, their companies stayed (in many cases, the bureaucrats also stayed, now as shareholders in those companies). The companies stayed to continue the extractivist economic model and the flow of resources from the Global South to the Global North. The first steps to dismantling fossil colonialism are to:

I) expelling Galp from the Global South;
ii) ending imports of fossil fuels from the Global South;
iii) canceling the Global South’s debt.

Galp outside the Global South: Galp's gas exploration consortium in Mozambique in the north, near the border with Tanzania, is involved in a militarization of the area by state and private forces that are expelling local communities from coastal areas to build infrastructure to support offshore operations. The Mozambican army and security companies from Russia, South Africa and the USA are active in the Cabo Delgado region and hundreds of families have already been expelled to ensure security for the projects. Galp must leave Mozambique immediately, as well as Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe and Namibia.

End the import of fossil fuels from the Global South: Stop importing fossil fuels from other countries, particularly from the global south, breaking with the current fossil colonialism that prevents the transition to renewable, clean, decentralized and profitable energy in these communities.

Canceling the debt of the Global South: The countries of the Global North have emitted much more CO2 than those of the South. The impacts of the climate crisis we are currently seeing are due to the emissions resulting from industrial acceleration after the Second World War. At the same time, colonialism deindustrialized the countries of the Global South and actively reduced their capacities for resilience, adaptation and transition (which continues with neocolonialism and extractivist projects). This is called ecological debt. On the other hand, the Global South is in financial debt to the countries of the Global North because of direct or indirect loans (from the IMF and the World Bank). This structure was set up by imposition (in many cases military) and blackmail during the decolonization process, and was consolidated with neoliberalism. Today, many countries are only able to pay the interest on their debts in economically favorable years, and generally become more and more indebted. A debt jubilee for the countries of the Global South is therefore needed as a form of compensation for leaving fossil fuels in the ground and financing a just transition.