Parliament votes for government to declare “state of climate emergency”

Against the “systematic opposition” of ruling PS Socialists, parliament today has approved the bulk of draft resolutions presented by ‘left wingers’ Bloco de Esquerda and animal rights party PAN calling on the government to declare a “state of climate emergency”.

Weeks ago, when his NGO was empowering students in this country to rise up and protest, climate change activist João Camargo said if this happened the country should start by “tearing up laws that favour climate collapse” and start following “a political programme that sets out to create social and natural equilibrium”.

Whether PS Socialists do this can only ‘wait to be seen’. Judging by the party’s declarations following the debate today, it looks like there will be some marked reluctance.

João Marques, speaking for the party kept in power by minority groups that include Bloco de Esquerda, justified the PS insistence on voting against the various texts on the basis that Portugal “is already on the front line” when it comes to international plans to combat climate change, and “does not need to adopt a declaration of state of climatic urgency”.

“Portugal fulfills all international environmental goals”, he told journalists after the voting. “More than words, Portugal is on track to meet the goal of carbon neutrality in 2050” he said, criticising BE’s and PAN’s proposals to bring carbon neutrality goals forwards, on the basis that they were “unrealistic” and “prejudicial” to the country.

But, due to centre-right PSD MPs voting tactically (the PCP and CDS-PP largely abstained, the Greens PEV voted with BE and PAN) almost all the texts were approved.

Says Lusa – which described the PS voting as “systematic opposition” – the only PAN draft resolution that failed to get passed was one in which the rapidly emerging party called on the reduction of CO2 emissions from the current 6.5 tons per person per year to less than two tons per year “as quickly as possible”.

All the rest of PAN’s recommendations were approved, calling on the State to create policies to “change behaviours” and to “approve legislation and make use of fiscal policies to create infrastructures, among other measures”.

Said PAN’s text, presented by its one MP in parliament André Silva, “public administration has the duty to limit the impacts of global warming and must comply with the objective of reaching carbon neutrality as quickly as possible”.

BE’s texts also saw only one clause fail in which the party called for carbon neutrality by 2030 and the closure of coal-powered electrical plants by 2023.

The rest, including the call for the government to “make a commitment to the maximum protection of people, economies, species and ecosystems, and the restoration of conditions of security and justice”, was approved – much to the clear irritation of PS Socialists approaching legislative elections where they may well still have to rely on their current minority party support.

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