With the world condemning the decision of US president Donald Trump removing America from conditions imposed under the Paris COP21 climate deal, Portugal’s environment minister has added his voice to the furore – dubbing the withdrawal “very negative, grave and worrying”.
Addressing President Trump’s speech, João Pedro Matos Fernandes said he cannot even understand the part where the president “says he is leaving and will negotiate” America’s return under more favourable terms.
“There is nothing here to negotiate”, the minister told Rádio Renacença. “It’s an agreement to which one adheres or does not adhere.
“These are very worrying declarations. Even though he appears to leave a door open, I do not see very well how it could work”.
Matos Fernandes stressed that “atmospheric emissions in the world are at very worrying levels. Temperature is increasing. Scientific studies say that in 2036 we will reach the point where average temperatures are 2% higher than they were before the industrial revolution, and if this happens, conditions for life on earth will be very difficult”.
The environment minister who is not known for making environmental remarks – remember he is under fire nationally for turning a blind eye to the dangers purportedly posed by Spain’s ageing nuclear power plant on the banks of the Tejo, just 100 kms from Portuguese territory (click here) – added that the only countries in the world who didn’t sign up to the Paris Accord were Syria and Nicaragua.
It is thus “extremely strange” to see America opting to join this group, he said.
Of course it is not that simple. America has not opted to join this group at all. At least 61 mayors were reported to be refusing to take on Trump’s decision last night, and protests in Washington and other parts of the country continue to involve thousands.
CNN has reported that Trump ‘supporters’ in the past, like Elon Musk – the business magnate promoting solar energy and electric cars – are now heading for the door.
Musk, for example, has announced that he will be resigning his position on the White House business council.
But as the fallout continues – and other countries in the accord confirm their commitment to putting “the planet first” – there is one aspect of Portugal’s ‘condemnation’ that does not ring in the least bit true.
As Matos Fernandes settled into his interview, he affirmed that Portugal’s commitment to the accord “does not change. In 2050 we will be a neutral state from the point of view of carbon emissions”.
This is diametrically opposed to a country that is forging ahead with controversial plans for oil and gas exploration, both on land and at sea.
In a bid to get some kind of clarification on this point, the Resident has been in touch with climate activists, who confirm that Matos Fernandes was “clouding the issue with bull****”.