Portugal

   

Environmental Policies

#16
Key Findings
With good outcomes despite some policy tensions, Portugal falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 16) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points relative to its 2014 level.

The crisis-era decline in environmental pressure, largely attributable to decreased production, has reversed. However, the country still rates highly on international climate-change policy performance indexes. A political battle over subsidies to and rents earned by renewable-energy producers has muddied the government’s otherwise pro-renewable policies.

The country ratified the Paris climate-change accord in late 2016, 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
The reduction in production resulting from the recent economic crisis has eased environmental pressures in the 2010s. This was particularly apparent during the bailout period and economic downturn, when Portugal ranked third in the 2014 and fourth in the 2015 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).

The subsequent economic recovery has been accompanied by a decline in Portugal’s ranking and score. In the 2018 CPPI report, the country fell to 18th place worldwide, with an overall score of 59.16 (albeit with a somewhat different methodology) – the worst results over the past five years.

In the previous report, we noted the political tension around subsidies to the renewable energy sector, perceived to be excessive by a number of international bodies as well as by 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 and have demanded that additional measures be taken against excessive rents in the renewable energy sector.

In the period under review, a proposal in late November 2017 by the Left Bloc to tax producers of renewable energy was blocked by the Socialist party, with the parliamentary party group initially approving the measure in the first reading, before recalling the measure and voting against it the following week, following the orientation given by the government. The political issue around these excessive rents is exacerbated by the legal protection that the energy producers have and by their political clout.

Since 2002, Portugal has proposed a National Strategy for Sustainable Development (ENDS), but implementation of this strategy continues to be at best partial.
While the CCPI 2018 report rates Portugal’s national climate policy performance as high, it seems fair to say that – as in other areas – the effective implementation of environmental legislation appears to lag vis-à-vis the legal text.

Citations:
Jan Burck, Franziska Marten, Christoph Bals and Niklas Höhne (2018), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2018, available online at: https://www.germanwatch.org/sites/germanwatch.org/files/publication/20503.pdf

Diário de Notícias (2017), “OE2018: Governo opôs-se a taxa sobre as renováveis para evitar riscos de litigância judicial,” available online at: https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/oe2018-governo-opos-se-a-taxa-sobre-as-renovaveis-para-evitar-riscos-de-litigancia-judicial-8949951.html

The Portuguese Environmental Agency for the ENDS 2015 edition (http://www.apambiente.pt/index.php?ref=16&subref=143&sub2ref=734). lists four documents on the ENDS, including the strategy, the plan of implementation, and two execution reports. However, none of these files is actually available on the website, which gives an error message when attempting to access these documents.

Global Environmental Protection

#21

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
6
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. The country has also become much more active in promoting the global protection of marine environments in particular. This is reflected in Portugal’s performance in the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), in which Portugal is rated “high” and ranked seventh worldwide in terms of national and international climate policy performance. Nevertheless, the proviso in the previous question regarding implementation of domestic environmental policy is applicable at the global level also.
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