Portugal

   

Environmental Policies

#18
Key Findings
With reasonably good outcomes despite some policy tensions, Portugal falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 18) 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 well 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 has made progress in the area of the circular economy, marine conservation and water management. It is above the EU average in terms of the proportion of protected land. Natural conservation, urban sprawl and sustainable development remain challenges.

The country ratified the Paris climate-change accord in late 2016, and is particularly active in promoting global protection of marine environments.

Environment

#19

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
6
The reduction in production resulting from the 2009 – 2014 economic crisis eased environmental pressures in the first half of 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), which measures overall climate protection performance.

As noted in the previous SGI report, the subsequent economic recovery was accompanied by a decline in Portugal’s ranking and score, falling to 18th place worldwide in the 2018 CCPI, with an overall score of 59.16 (albeit with a somewhat different methodology) – Portugal’s worst result over the past five years. This decline was arrested in the 2019 CCPI, with Portugal ranking in 17th place and marginally increasing its score to 60.54.

Though it should be noted that Portugal scores highly in the “Domestic Policy” component of the CCPI, which assesses the policies and measures of countries as well as their implementation and effects. However, as in other areas, there is some lag between the legal texts and actual implementation of environmental legislation.

If we look at environmental policy more broadly, Portugal shows improvements in some areas but also challenges in others. The European Commission’s 2019 Environmental Implementation Review for Portugal notes substantial progress with regard to the circular economy, a flagship policy of Ministry of Environment and Climate Action under the first Costa government, as well as some progress on marine conservation and water management, all of which had been areas of challenge noted in the 2017 review. Likewise, Portugal performed above the EU average with regard to eco-innovation, environmental tax revenues as a percentage of GDP and the proportion of land area that is protected.

At the same time, however, the review noted persistent challenges with regard to nature conservation, waste management (including low levels of recycling), water management, low productivity in using material resources to generate wealth and urban sprawl, among others. Overall, the review also noted that sustainable development was not fully taken into account across policy areas.

In the previous SGI report, we noted the political tension around subsidies for 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 were against passing through the cost of these subsidies to consumers and have demanded that additional measures be taken against excessive rents in the renewable energy sector. We also noted that a proposal in late November 2017 by the Left Bloc to tax producers of renewable energy was blocked by the Socialist party.

In the period under review, these three parties coalesced to approve the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee on Payment of Excessive Rents to Electricity Producers in May 2019, which concluded that there were indeed excessive rents. Though no legislative measures were introduced as a result, it does increase political pressure to address this issue.

Citations:
Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito ao Pagamento de Rendas Excessivas aos Produtores de Eletricidade (2019), “Relatório Final da Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito ao Pagamento de Rendas Excessivas aos Produtores de Eletricidade,” available online at:
https://bit.ly/3giz3nx

Eco (2019), “Geringonça viabiliza relatório final da comissão de rendas excessivas na energia,” available online at: https://eco.sapo.pt/2019/05/15/geringonca-viabiliza-relatorio-final-da-comissao-de-rendas-excessivas-na-energia/

Jan Burck, Ursula Hagen, Franziska Marten, Niklas Höhne, Christoph Bals (2019), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2019, available online at: https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org/sites/default/files/documents/ccpi-2019-results-190614-web-a4.pdf

European Commission (2019), The EU Environmental Implementation Review 2019 Country Report – Portugal, available online at: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eir/pdf/report_pt_en.pdf

https://www.publico.pt/sociedade/interactivo/que-esta-portugal-fazer-ambiente
ec.europa.eu/environment/eir/pdf/factsheet_pt_pt.pdf

Global Environmental Protection

#22

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, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced 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 contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced 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, in September 2016, ratified the Paris Agreement.

The country has also become much more active in promoting the global protection of marine environments, taking advantage of its unique and very large maritime area. Indeed, Portugal has the third largest exclusive economic zone in the European Union and the 20th largest in the world. This is reflected in the country hosting the annual Oceans Meeting, congregating ministers responsible for ocean/maritime affairs from around the world.

Portugal’s commitment to advancing global environmental protection is reflected in its performance in the “International Climate Policy” indicator of the 2019 CCPI, which specifically measures countries’ international climate diplomacy. Portugal is rated as “very high” in this indicator, reflecting its collaborative role in international negotiations. Nevertheless, the proviso in the previous question regarding implementation of domestic environmental policy is applicable at the global level as well.

Citations:
Jan Burck, Ursula Hagen, Franziska Marten, Niklas Höhne, Christoph Bals (2019), The Climate Change Performance Index Results 2019, available online at: https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org/sites/default/files/documents/ccpi-2019-results-190614-web-a4.pdf
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