Portugal's climate gas burden grows heavier

Portugal faces an even tougher battle to contain ballooning greenhouse gas emissions than previously realised, a revised draft climate change plan issued by the government's environment institute shows. The plan contains few proposals to reverse the trend.

Based on a recalculation of available data, the institute now forecasts that emissions could be 61% over 1990 levels by 2010. Portugal is committed under the Kyoto protocol to limit the increase to 27%. Even the best case forecast is for emissions 55% higher in 2010 than in 1990. An earlier draft of the plan issued in 2001 predicted a lower increase of 52%, reports Environment Daily.

A significant contributor to the more pessimistic forecast are recalculated predictions of transport emissions. The expected increase from this sector between 1990 and 2010 is now 150%, compared with 135% in the earlier plan. Emissions from energy production are forecast to rise by between 54% and 65%.

The plan describes the new figures as “worrying” but proposes few solutions. The only significant current domestic measure to combat rising transport emissions is construction of three underground train networks. Plans by the previous centre-left government to raise taxes on petrol-driven vehicles were dropped last year by the new centre-right administration.

However, junior environment minister Jose Eduardo Martins said last week that “a revision of fiscal instruments is necessary” to reduce transport emissions. The government has also promised that other as yet unspecified measures will be included before ministers give their final approval, scheduled in April.

Environmental NGO Quercus says that such measures should include congestion charging for urban areas and a demand management programme to rein in electricity consumption.



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