“Worst position ever”: Portugal falls eight slots in climate change combat ranking

Portugal has fallen eight slots in the global ranking for ‘performance in the combat against climate change’.

The alert has been sounded by environmental NGO Quercus which says that Portugal is now in 25th place among 57 countries – meaning it is scoring “the worst ranking ever”.

The blame is laid on ‘increased consumption as a result of the end of the economic crisis’ , the ‘serious situation of drought’ and a ‘disinvestment in renewable energies’.

The Climate Change Performance Index was released in Madrid this week at COP25, the UN summit on climate change.

Data was collected by the Germanwatch environmental association, the NewClimate Institute and the European Network for Climate Action (with which Quercus collaborates).

Possibly the worst aspect of this ranking is that the first three slots are ‘empty’.

Explain reports, this means no developed country is on a path compatible with the Paris Climate Accord – signed in 2016 by representatives from 196 countries.

As Quercus has explained, the numbers show that Portugal’s combat against climate change is “very dependent on economic factors and the climate that occurs every year – namely the periods of drought and forest wildfires.

In other words, with ‘all the good will in the world’, practically the country has not been able to comply with its proffered ideals.

The fall in the ranking was “prejudiced by forest fires and generalised drought which led to an increase in the consumption of fossil fuels which continue to benefit from tax perks, albeit subject to fuel and carbon levies since 2018”, said Quercus’ João Branco – adding that it is completely understandable that the end of an economic crisis leads to increased energy consumption – translating into a higher emission of greenhouse gases – as families are suddenly more ‘mobile’, meaning there is an increase in the circulation of vehicles, etc.

Francisco Ferreira of environmental association ZERO however suggests this latest ‘blip’ in the index will sort itself out over time, particularly as the government has announced new policies for forestry management, and the closure of two coal-fired plants (Sines and Pego, by the end of 2021 and 2023 respectively), both of which constitute the country’s largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions.

As to the ‘world leaders’ in performance against climate change, these are the Nordic countries of Sweden and Denmark (which rose 10 slots) and intriguingly Morocco.

The United States – whose president Trump has started the process of pulling out of the Paris Accord – is one of the countries with the worst ranking, along with Saudi Arabia and Australia.

China, responsible for the largest amount of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, managed to climb three slots this year and is now in 30th position.

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