THE BRITISH Council and the British Embassy’s trade section recently signed a far-reaching protocol with Portuguese environmental group Quercus. The Ecocasa Protocol, signed by British Ambassador John Buck, Head of the British Council in Portugal, Rosemary Hilhorst OBE, and Quercus President, Hélder Spínola, will allow an exchange of information and research between Portugal and UK institutions on a wide range of ecological issues.
The British government has long sought to improve and strengthen co-operation between environmental groups, academic and government agencies in Portugal and the UK over questions to do with climate change, ecological disasters and global warming, reports Chris Graeme.
This is part of an overall environmental bilateral initiative that has been at the heart of British government policy under the present Blair administration. It has spawned a number of British Embassy hosted seminars in Lisbon in the past two years, with a distinguished roll call of invited experts and speakers on all aspects of climate change. The British Council will continue to promote and be involved in environmental initiatives, as will the Embassy over the next two years.
The British Council’s project and partnership manager, Fátima Dias, told The Resident: as part of our co-operation with Portuguese ecological entities, particularly Quercus, both the Embassy and the British Council have been holding meetings and exchanging information on climate change. This includes forging links and sharing information between scientific and research faculties both in the United Kingdom and Portugal.
Of particular interest is Quercus Ecocasa Project, which looks at ways of making urban living more environmentally friendly by reducing carbon in buildings and attendant emissions. The project also aims to help citizens save energy in their homes through more efficient lighting and electrical appliances, while exploring avenues to make a house more energy efficient and eco-friendly.
Hélder Spínola, president of Quercus, told us: “there’s no doubt that the climate in Portugal is changing fast as a result of global warming. We need to draw people’s attention to the fact that there will be less water, longer, hotter summers, droughts, more forest fires and increasing desertification of the Alentejo and Algarve interior regions. if the government does not seriously address and deal with this reality, we will be less prepared to survive in the European economy in relation to tourism, wine production, and agriculture, he warned. Portugal needs to face a future with more aggressive droughts, more violent forest fires and our government simply isn’t doing enough.