Through a diverse combination of protests, petitions, letters, public meetings and direct actions, we saw two big fossil fuel concessions postponed: GALP (in the Alentejo basin) and Repsol/Partex (in the Algarve basin) announced they changed plans, and that they will not start drilling this year.
From an investment perspective, a one-year delay brings about huge uncertainties. From a business perspective (offshore drilling means arranging a platform, planning the allocation of experts and directing future funds), postponing a project has direct costs.
That this was our victory is clear. One: No such withdrawal was observed in other concessions (although newly emerging local movements are already challenging this situation). Two: The contracts are years old, but only now did municipalities and investors started questioning them. Three: GALP directly stated that the extension of the public consultation caused harm to their plans and that this was the main reason for the postponement; and DGRM stated that the public consultation was extended due to the flooding of public letters.
No policy change has one single cause. Yet in this case, I am convinced that the social movements are the first in the list.
I don’t believe in final victories (particularly in this case, as no one “canceled” anything anyway), but I do believe in the power of celebrations – while agreeing that we should never let go and that we should be particularly attentive after such declarations. We generally tend to be skeptical towards victories (and for good reasons). But in this case, the postponement is much better than non-postponement, and we are the key factor for this difference. We made a difference, which means we can make a difference. I think a celebration can serve as a reminder and amplifier of such a role of ordinary people in history.
An evaluation in celebration: From NIMBY to NOPE
In the last years and particularly when the mobilizations started taking a massive scale, grassroots movements in the Algarve rapidly moved from away from a NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) approach (indeed quite rapidly compared to other local movements around the world). They have incorporated regional (tourism), national (dirty energy) and international (climate change) arguments in their discourse.
A celebration of this attitude can also provide us with a road map to build a stronger movement against fossil fuels. And this is what we propose!
We must stop all the fossil fuel projects in Portugal. And 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.
International climate movements propose an alternative: NOPE, Not On Planet Earth.
In Portugal, we need to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 64% in 15 years. To achieve this, we must
- 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.
A crucial proposal to lead this transformation is the Climate Jobs (Empregos para o Clima) 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.
The campaign aims at addressing precarity and unemployment together with the climate crisis. The campaign aims at creating a unifying lemma that links the demands of various social movements.
Two Weeks of Action in Celebration:
October 24th-November 6th
Everyday, the rulers of this socio-economic system erode our sense of dignity, safety, health, justice and hope. Everyday, they push more and more people to precarious and dangerous working conditions, to unemployment, to social exclusion. All of that, in order to continue their game. Everyday, they attack our right to exist, by steering our climate to an earthly hell of droughts, storms and forest fires. All of that, in order to continue their game.
Everyday, they play games with our lives.
It’s time to enter the game, and revert the table!
We propose a two-week action period, They Play Games With Our Lives (Jogam com as nossas vidas), from October 24th until November 6th, to raise our demand to a just and livable planet, against labor precarity and planetary precarity.
Form your team, choose your objective, plan your action, and bring your struggle in. Also, let us know about your plans so we can help to coordinate and to amplify our collective voice.