Portugal

   

Environmental Policies

#17
Key Findings
With reasonable outcomes despite policy gaps, Portugal falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 17) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

Successive governments have failed to implement adequate policies on the issues of climate change, protection of water resources, biodiversity and forest conservation. Nevertheless, the decline in economic activity has eased environmental pressure.

The Costa government remains committed to the development of renewable energy sources, but a renewal of the generous pre-crisis public support given to wind power appears unlikely. The government gave its approval to a nuclear facility in Spain that will draw on river water upstream of Portugal.

The country ratified the Paris climate-change accord in late 2016. A National Strategy for Sustainable Development has long been under discussion, but implementation continues to be postponed. The country largely works through the European Union on international environmental issues, and is particularly active in promoting global protection of marine environments.

Environment

#14

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
6
Portugal has long had legislation in place meant to protect the environment. Although the government has failed to implement adequate policies to mitigate climate change, ensure renewable water sources, or to protect forest areas and biodiversity, the reduction in production resulting from the economic crisis has eased the pressures placed on the environment in recent years.

In the 2017 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), Portugal improved its position to 11th overall, up from 16th in 2016, but still falls well below its 4th-place position from 2015 and 3rd-place position from 2014. The country’s score improved to 62.47, an increase vis-à-vis 2016 (59.52), but still well below the 2015 level (67.26).

The António Costa government remains committed to the development of renewable energy sources. However, new investments in the renewable energy sector are unlikely to obtain the generous – if not overgenerous – public support given to wind power in 2005-2011.

The country’s subsidies for renewables were severely criticized by the EU-ECB-IMF Troika during the 2011-2014 bailout period, which also sought to reduce excessive rents in the energy sector. In addition, the 2016 International Energy Agency (IEA) Review of Portugal noted that “the costs of supporting [renewable energy sources] have been costly and made a significant contribution to the tariff deficit,” and that “rising subsidies to renewable energy have contributed to (…) growth in the tariff debt.”

Subsidies to the renewable sector have also come under fire from the Socialists’ left-wing parliamentary allies. While not against renewable sources, the Left Bloc and the Communist Party are against passing through the cost of these subsidies to consumers’ energy bills. Both parties demanded during this period that additional measures be taken against excessive rents in the renewable energy sector. While no such measure was adopted in the 2017 budget – indeed, the Socialist Party simply committed to discussing such measures with its parliamentary allies – the fact of the matter is that the political climate has become less favorable for subsidizing renewable energy sources.

During the review period, Portugal gave its approval to the nuclear facility at Almaraz, in Spain, near the Portuguese border, and drawing on the water of the Tagus River that runs through Portugal into the Atlantic Ocean.

Portugal has proposed a National Strategy for Sustainable Development (ENDS) since 2002, but implementation of this strategy continues to be postponed. The strategy could have a substantial positive impact by developing a green public-accounting system; harmonizing and publicizing existing environmental information; creating analysis and decision-making tools that jointly address environmental, social, economic and fiscal issues; reviewing industry regulation; and rationalizing existing environmental funds.

In lieu of the ENDS, this assessment is based largely on newspaper reporting. In this regard, Portugal can be rated as good on climate issues; poor on water resources, though a National Plan for Water is under discussion; poor on forests, but very poor on forest-fire prevention, as exemplified by the devastating fires of 2017; and good on biodiversity, particularly regarding marine environments.

Citations:
Source: Público 18/11/2013.

Technical Report for the DGEP Model Results prepared for the Commission for Green Fiscal Reform (http://www.portugal.gov.pt/media/1537849/20140917%20fiscalidade%20verde%20anexo%20IV%20DGEP%20model%20results.pdf (doc 23 e 24)

Jan Burck, Franziska Marten & Christoph Bals (2015), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2016, available online at: https://germanwatch.org/en/download/13626.pdf

Jan Burck, Franziska Marten & Christoph Bals (2014), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2015, available online at: https://germanwatch.org/en/download/10407.pdf

Jan Burck, Franziska Marten & Christoph Bals (2013), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2014, available online at: https://germanwatch.org/de/download/8599.pdf

“Portugal’s clean-power problem,” Politico, 22 August 2016, Available online at: http://www.politico.eu/article/portugal-looks-to-free-its-stranded-renewables-wind-solar-energy-subsidies-european-union/

Jan Burck, Franziska Marten & Christoph Bals (2016), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2017, available online at: https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org/sites/default/files/documents/the_climate_change_performance_index_results_2017.pdf

Global Environmental Protection

#25

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
5
Portugal agrees to and participates in EU-wide policies on the environment. Portugal signed the Kyoto Protocol, and ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016. In June 2017, Minister of the Environment Matos Fernandes very forcefully criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change. However, Portugal’s primary challenge in this area concerns implementation in both the domestic and global settings. The country has become much more active in promoting the global protection of marine environments in particular.

Citations:
www.eea.europa.eu
Renascenca 1 June 2017.
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