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2024 elections “decisive” for environment

National and European elections in 2024 could play key role in future environmental policies

The 2024 elections in Portugal will be “decisive” for future national and European environmental policies, according to two environmental NGOs.

In statements to the press, Zero and ANP/WWF warn of the importance of the upcoming elections, which they stress could change everything in the environmental field.

Zero is hopeful that the March 10 legislative elections will not result in “an advance by political forces that advocate setbacks in environmental policy”. Regarding the European elections in June , the association says that they will show whether the European Union will continue to lead the way in the defence of sustainability or whether, as recent months have shown, “it will take a diversion towards conservatism and the protection of vested interests.”

For ANP/WWF, the two elections are an opportunity to start a new cycle of hope for nature, biodiversity and citizens, and will demonstrate how and if the parties will protect people and restore nature.

Zero, in its assessment of 2023, highlights several positive accomplishments: the completion of the strategic environmental assessment on the future location of Lisbon airport; the increase in the number of days with all the country’s consumption of electricity covered by power generated from renewable sources; the approval of the National Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty; and Portugal’s decision to abandon the Energy Charter Treaty.

On the negative side, it names the delay in implementing the Basic Climate Law, the increase in carbon dioxide emissions, the entry into force of an “environmental simplex” – that is, a reduction in red tape in the area – which it argues is negative for sustainability, and what it calls the “conservative drift” of the European Parliament, which has weakened the European Commission’s legislative proposals such as the Nature Restoration Law and the regulation on packaging and packaging waste.

Catarina Grilo, Director of Policy and Conservation at ANP/WWF, also gives the example of the Nature Restoration Act, which was supposed to pave the way for a Sustainable Food Systems Act, but “pressure from conservative groups” has left the proposal weakened, and the law will be a “missed opportunity” to halt the urgent loss of habitats and diversity.

The Nature Restoration Act is thus seen as a negative aspect of 2023, a year marked positively by the assessment for the new airport, the creation of a voluntary carbon market, the bringing forward of the marine protection target to 2026, and the European Deforestation Act (to combat global deforestation driven by EU consumption), among other topics mentionedon the ANP/WW list.

Zero, lamenting the postponement of laws such as soil protection (postponed for eight years), the packaging deposit system that was scheduled for 2022, and the national noise strategy promised four years ago, hopes that 2024 will be the year that the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) is overhauled – after what it calls “years of ineptitude” – to guarantee the “suitability and quality” of its work.

The year that is about to begin is also one in which the National Energy and Climate Plan and the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality are to be revised, as well as seeing the start of the selective collection of bio-waste throughout the country, recalls Zero.

By 2024, the ANP/WWF also want to see the compulsory removal of obsolete river barriers and more investment in nature conservation.

Source: LUSA