Climáximo activists very active this week, thwarted today in Cascais
Activists representing Climáximo have been very active in recent days, holding numerous protests – but not with perhaps the effect that they had hoped.
An appeal for a vigil for those arrested earlier this week saw almost very few people respond, while today REN (the company running the country’s energy grid) has retaliated, accusing the group not simply of vandalism, but of manipulating facts about climate change.
“REN strongly repudiates all acts of violence and also the manipulation of facts, which cloud what should be an open, frank and transparent debate on one of the great challenges facing humanity,” said the company, which is majority Chinese owned.
Early on Saturday morning, the glass on the façade of REN’s headquarters in Lisbon was smashed by two Climáximo activists who accused the company of conspiring with the government to “expand its infrastructure that kills”.
In a statement, Climáximo, which defines itself as “an open, horizontal and anti-capitalist collective” in defence of the climate, explains that the activists’ action was carried out as part of the collective’s “disarmament plan” which “includes not one more project that increases greenhouse gas emissions, such as the expansion of REN’s liquefied fossil gas terminal in Sines”.
Climáximo activists had previously painted the façade of REN’s headquarters red.
“This way of expressing convictions is criminal, attacks people and property in a dangerous way and disrespects our freedoms and the laws that govern us,” says a statement released by REN.
The company says that “it has been at the heart of changes that have put Portugal at the forefront of decarbonising the economy” for several years, exemplifying various achievements in reducing pollutant emissions.
“It was the guarantees of security of supply given by the company to political decision-makers that enabled the switch-off of coal-fired power stations to be brought forward from 2030 to 2022, and it was the continuous investment in infrastructure that has enabled the current levels of average incorporation of renewables in the electricity sector of around 60%,” the company argues.
In its release, REN emphasises that Portugal “is in 4th place in the list of European countries where renewable production has the greatest weight” and that “in 10 years solar power has increased almost sevenfold”.
“The energy transition is a long journey that requires continuous efforts and cannot be carried out with disruptive movements that jeopardise the country’s supply. That’s why REN will continue to invest in making Portugal greener, planning to build more than 2,000 kms of transmission lines and 10 substations over the next three years to integrate the energy coming out of the renewable production centres that are springing up in various parts of the country.”
Saturday saw the 5th day of actions by Climáximo “to warn (against) the war that companies and governments are waging against society” (in the words of the group)
Earlier in the week, activists blocked the Segunda Circular in Lisbon and Estrada de São Bento; cut traffic on Avenida de Roma (also Lisbon), daubed REN’s headquarters with paint and today appeared to have had plans for the EDP marathon, thwarted by plain-clothes police agents.
Indeed, the collective has “denounced” what it calls the “illegal detention” of 12 activists, all discovered in possession of paint and presumed by police to be preparing “an illicit action”.
The group claims police had “no legal justification” for approaching the young people, whom they ‘identified and constituted official suspects (arguidos) in an inquiry’.
The process involved escorting the young people to a police station in Cascais, where they remained for two hours.
Climáximo claims this constituted an “attack on liberty and democracy”.
Said one of the activists: “”This is what EDP and the government have chosen to spend their resources and the resources of the State on, instead of guaranteeing the retraining of the hundreds of workers who were made redundant when they closed the Sines thermoelectric plant, instead of dismantling and guaranteeing a just transition for the fossil plants still operating in Portugal and instead of ensuring that we comply with the limits set by the United Nations, which guarantee the safety and rights of people in the face of this war declared by the fossil industry and governments.”
It has to be said that Climáximo’s protests have not received widespread support from the general public. When activists tried ‘stopping traffic’ in Lisbon last week, motorists swiftly ensured their onward journeys, without causing any injuries.
As opposed to countries like UK – where motorists have been stopped from removing activists from blocking roads – Portuguese authorities have this far turned a blind eye, focusing instead on arresting those trying to stop others from getting on with their lives.