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Climate activists descend on Sines refinery

Seven “identified by GNR” for entering refinery to hand out “Plan for Just Transition”

More than 100 climate activists descended on Sines refinery this morning, with seven of them actually forcing entry, in order to hand out their plan for a “Just Transition”.

While GNR police set about dealing with the seven, dozens of others remained at the various refinery gates, holding up placards, passing literature to workers as they changed shifts and giving interviews to assembled press crews.

Only two weekend’s ago President Marcelo told young people on Carcavelos Beach before the United Nations Oceans Conference – called to ‘save the seas -: “don’t rely on your rulers… the only way to be stronger (in the fight to save the world from the ravages of climate change) is to fight for it, and not believe someone will do it for you. Remember that…”

And it seems this group of young people took the president’s words to heart.

They arrived early in the morning, with the objective, says a statement put out by the Climáximo collective, of “taking a plan for just transition to the workers” on the complex.

“Some of the activists have been arrested, but the protest remains active”, said a first statement (police have since denied the seven young men were arrested; they were ‘identified’, said a statement from the GNR, and have been ‘released’).

The whole point of this morning’s exercise was to “deliver a plan for transformation, not simply for this infrastructure”, said the Climáximo statement, but “for the whole region of Sines”.

“Not to prepare for transition now is to leave the way open to closure at the convenience of GALP’s millionaire shareholders, just as what happened in Matosinhos”, warned the group.

The bottom line of the ‘plan’ put forward this morning was that the refinery should close gradually until 2025, with all workers guaranteed employment beyond that date, or full pensions. The collective also wants to see “immediate investment in renewable energy produced locally, so that in three years’ time, 100% of the energy consumed in Sines could come from renewable sources”.

Explains Expresso, “Sines refinery is responsible for the largest quantity of CO2 emissions in Portugal”.

Climáximo’s Leonor Canadas told the paper: “Right now our country is burning – and this will always get worse. Median temperatures are increasing, and fires and other extreme phenomena like drought, flooding and storms will follow. The urgency of the climate crisis is more evident with every day that passes”.

The day’s effort is continuing this afternoon with a rally in Sines’ Jardim da República which will then make its way to the natural gas terminal in Sines port.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com