There is no fossil fuel extraction in Portugal, for now. Some corporations, with the support of some politicians, want to start drilling soon. All concessions are based on clumsy contracts, without any serious consideration of environmental, economic, and social impacts, except the profits they could generate for the corporations involved.
The best case scenario is that these gentlemen never heard of global climate change.
The climate emergency
To avoid runaway climate change, we must limit warming by 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. We already reached 1°C last year, and this year is even worse. After the 2°C threshold, several ecosystems in the Earth’s climate would collapse, crossing the point of no return. This may lead to 4-6°C increase in average temperatures during this century. Scientists refer to this as “the end of the world as we know it” because such abrupt changes would annul all options for adaptation and even for modeling: we have no scientific method to visualize what a 6°C warmer world would look like, how many human beings it could support, and how many species and ecosystems could survive.
Beyond the point of no return are chronic droughts, storms, hurricanes, inundations, massive biodiversity loss, epidemics, sea level rise, ocean acidification, infrastructure failures, food crises, water crises, wars and climate refugees. Let us put that last point into perspective: compared to the 4 million refugees from Syria (of which only a few hundred thousands entered Europe), climate refugees are expected to be around 200 millions by 2050.
But none of this inevitable. Climate science shows we can have a good chance of keeping warming within livable limits. To do that, we must leave more than 80% of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. (And they want to look for more reserves?)
In Portugal, we need to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 64% in 15 years. You don’t do this by fossil fuel extraction projects.
From a climate justice perspective: as the concessions become extraction projects, and even if they provide extraordinary safety measures, prepare for the smallest risks, pay decent wages to workers (imagine!); that is, even if the corporations involved satisfy all legal conditions, and do everything as according to their plans, we are still doomed. On top of the complete ecological destruction in the Global South, to which Portugal should be particular attuned to given its history with, among others, Portuguese-speaking countries, the settlements in the Atlantic coast will suffer due to sea level rise, Alentejo will face droughts and temperature rise, and cities will experience grave infrastructure failures. And someone is now investing money to this end!
In short: The fossil fuel corporations are climate denialists, and the Portuguese climate policy is a denialist of physics and chemistry.
The only realist proposal for a just and livable planet is to leave fossil fuels in the ground, mobilize all political, social and economic forces for a just transition to a sustainable future. In practical terms, a good beginning is to stop all the fossil fuel projects in Portugal – make the government cancel all existing contracts and pass a moratorium on any new ones
A strategy for a livable planet
Climáximo is a grassroots climate justice movement that fights for a radical transformation of our societies. Here is our proposal for short to middle term strategies.
We highlight four targets in the short term:
- GALP: Together with ENI, GALP has a concession for deep-offshore exploration and extraction in the Alentejo basin. They announced to start drilling by July 1st.
- REPSOL: Together with PARTEX, REPSOL has deep-offshore concessions in four areas in the Algarve basin. They announced to start drilling this autumn.
- ENMC: This is the state apparatus at the service of the fossil fuel industry. In complete climate denial, they publicly declared themselves pro-extraction and move on to negotiate even more contracts.
- PARTEX: Owned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the only financier of the foundation, PARTEX is involved in concessions in the Algarve basin and the Peniche basin.
Our lemma is as follows: The planet has very little time left for climate action. But the corporations and that quasi-corporate entity still have time to back off. If they cross the red lines of a livable planet, we will have to cross their red lines through actions of civil disobedience.
We have solutions.
We must stop all the fossil fuel projects in Portugal. But this is not enough. Around three quarters of the energy consumed in Portugal come from fossil fuels, which not only means energy dependency but also that Portugal is responsible for extraction projects elsewhere.
Instead, we need a profound transformation of our society. We need to:
- produce all our electricity from sustainable renewable energies such as wind and solar,
- switch from cars to buses, trains and metro, and run almost all transport on renewable energy,
- insulate and convert all homes and buildings to use less energy and to heat and cool using renewable energy,
- convert and redesign industry to use less energy and to use renewable energy whenever possible, and
- redesign agricultural production to use less industrial inputs.
This will require a lot of work.
Our proposal to lead this transformation is the Climate Jobs campaign. In a nutshell, the campaign demands the creation of
- safe, secure and decent new jobs,
- in public sector
- in areas that would directly cut greenhouse gas emissions,
- while at the same time guaranteeing employment for the workers in the polluting industries.
This is not only possible and urgent, but also has became a necessary condition for the survival of any kind of civilization.
Our priority is to resist and block extraction projects while at the same time pushing for real solutions to climate chaos.
Plan of action
Here is our plan of action for the short term:
- June 25: Climate Activism Training
- July 1: Toxic Tour, integrated into Bicicletada (including a visit to GALP)
- July 30-31: Nonviolent Direct Action Training (to be confirmed soon)
- all summer: Be attentive to Alentejo (We are looking at you, GALP.)
- July-August-September: Prepare a detailed study of Climate Jobs in Portugal
- September: Climate Activism Training
- October: A week of diverse actions linking social justice to environmental justice, and linking precarity to climate catastrophe: Jogam com as nossas vidas!
- all autumn: Be attentive to Algarve (We are looking at you, REPSOL and PARTEX.)
- all year around: Follow every single move of ENMC
There are many ways you could be part of the struggle. Climate change is the biggest challenge in the history of humanity. All around the world, thousands of activists are building a movement to change the system, instead of the climate.
And we need everyone.
If you already belong to an organization or movement, share and discuss this proposal and talk to us. Participate in the Climate Jobs campaign. Also, bring your ideas in, so together we put all the initiatives to feed each other.
If you are familiar with climate justice issues, appear in our weekly meetings: We are willing to prepare actions of civil disobedience in order to stop the climate criminals from crossing the planetary red lines. But actions require team building, trainings, political and strategic convergence, and a lot of kitchen work. This means more people involved in the meetings and discussions. 😉
If this makes you curious (or excited, or furious) but you don’t feel like you have the basic background on climate, we are preparing a moment to introduce our collective and to open up to new ideas. Join the training in June 25.
See you soon, 😉