Portuguese parliament votes to increase greenhouse gas emissions less than it could

Portuguese parliament voted against cancelling oil and gas contracts but voted in favour of the suspension of the new oil drill for exploration in 2018.

After years of popular struggle, several petitions and various campaigns against fossil fuel extraction in Portugal, on December 21st, following a petition delivered by ASMAA, the parliament voted several proposals. The bottom line: the deputies agreed to slightly and partially reduce the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Portugal.


Seven parties are represented in the Portuguese parliament: the right-wing opposition parties PSD (Social Democrat Party) and CDS-PP (People’s Party), the minority government of PS (Socialist Party), the left-wing parties BE (Left Bloc), PCP (Portuguese Communist Party) and PEV (Ecologist Party “The Greens”), and one deputy of PAN (People Animals Nature).

The petition discussed in the plenary session was against the first ever offshore oil and gas exploration in Portugal planned in the Atlantic coast with the consortium of ENI/GALP. A recent request by the companies to extend the deadlines of their three contracts made it into a burning topic as GALP had announced in their shareholders meeting that they would drill near Aljezur in Spring 2018.

Proposals and votes

BE and PAN had a joint proposal, based on an argument about sound climate change policies, recommending the government to

  • not extend ENI/GALP’s contract in the Atlantic coast
  • terminate all oil and gas contracts, without compensations,
  • not permit any new fossil fuel concessions during its mandate, and
  • order a detailed study about the composition and extractive methods involved in the natural gas imported through Sines port.

The parliament voted against this proposal: BE, PAN and PEV voted in favour. PS voted against. PSD and CDS-PP abstained. (PCP voted against 2nd and 3rd points, and in favour of the others.)

PEV had a proposal, based on an argument about environmental sustainability, recommending the government to

  • make the most effort to stop all fossil fuel contracts in the country, and
  • not extend ENI/GALP’s contract in the Atlantic coast.

The parliament voted against this proposal: BE, PAN, PEV and PCP voted in favour; PS voted against; PSD and CDS-PP abstained.

Finally, PCP, with an argument about public interest and a demand for a more participatory process, proposed

  • the suspension of all fossil fuel exploration activities in Aljezur, until the finalization and public discussion of the assessment of environmental impacts and impacts on other economic activities.*

Deputies of BE, PCP, PEV and PAN, and some of PS deputies voted in favour of this proposal, while the rest of PS as well as PSD and CDS-PP abstained. Thus, it was approved.

From a climate perspective, the result translates to “continue increasing emissions, but not as fast as one could.”

Talking the talk

It is at moments like this – when there is a clear Yes/No question about a particular policy – that the real meaning of papers and declarations get revealed.

Just last year, the Prime Minister António Costa announced that Portugal would be carbon-neutral in 2050 (a commitment we could confirm only after his death). It was also last year that new gas pipeline projects were announced. This year, the government declared that all coal power plants would be shut down by 2030 (meaning, surely not during their mandate), a less ambitious measure than the one of the previous right-wing austerity government. Finally, next year, the government will organize a mobility summit in partnership with Volkswagen, a summit without any reference to the decaying public transportation infrastructures.

We are amazed by how little action the government is capable of fitting into so many promises.

* In the Alentejo basin, there exist three contracts of ENI/GALP. This proposal seems to refer to only one of them: the one which includes Aljezur, where ENI/GALP wanted to drill in 2018.

EZLN vs. GALP (english)

Crustaceans, Molluscs and Fish Invade the GALP headquartes as counter-attack against oil and gas exploration in Portuguese seas

EZLN vs. GALP from Climaximo on Vimeo.

On May 18th, an EZLN unit (Exército Zoológico de Libertação da Natureza, Zoological Army for the Liberation of Nature) invaded the headquarters of GALP Energia. On the day when unconfirmed news appeared saying GALP gave up the Aljezur drill, we express our total renouncement against the permanent threat of oil and gas exploration in our seas. We opted for an incursion against fossil fuel terrorism, by making it clear once more that we reject fossil fuels in Aljezur and everywhere else!

With this counter-attack, EZLN aims to clarify to GALP Energia and their partner ENI that if they continue with their intentions to explore fossil fuels here or elsewhere, they will have to confront our iron will and the leviathan of our resistance to being exterminated and to seeing our habitats devastated.

If there is an eventual cancellation of the Aljezur drill, this would be a victory for our seas. However, we know very well that there are still many contracts to cancel, and we will always be in the frontwaves until final victory. We leave it loud and clear that any incursion to our seas in Alentejo, Peniche and Douro basin would mean an escalation of hostilities, to which we would give a really tsunamic response.

Fósseis de transição? / Transition fossils?

Os governos de Espanha e Portugal querem fazer da Península Ibérica uma “via-rápida do gás natural”, através de um investimento conjunto de mais de 500 milhões de euros [1] e da criação do mercado comum MibGás (Mercado Ibérico do Gás) [2].

Em Portugal, isto significará mais atividades no Terminal de Sines e uma extensão dos gasodutos por mais 160 km.

E depois, também há as alterações climáticas. Até mesmo a Agência Internacional de Energia admitiu que a infraestrutura de combustíveis fósseis que existirá em 2017 será suficiente para tornar o aquecimento global irreversível. [3] E eles ainda assinam novos projetos?

Nós relembramos: O gás natural não é um “fóssil de transição”. [4]

Temos de travar esta insanidade.

Temos de deixar os combustíveis fósseis no solo.


The governments of Spain and Portugal want to make the Iberian peninsula “a highway for natural gas”, through a joint investment of €500+ million [1] and the creation of the common market MibGás (Mercado Ibérico do Gás) [2].

In Portugal, this means further activities in the Sines LNG Terminal and an extension of gas pipelines by another 160 km.

Then, there is climate change. Even the International Energy Agency admitted that the fossil fuel infrastructure existing by next year would be sufficient to push us off the tipping point. [3] And they sign new projects?

We remind: Natural gas is no “transition fossil”. [4]

We must stop this madness.

We must phase out all fossil fuels, starting now.


[1] https://www.dinheirovivo.pt/economia/galeria/pode-portugal-ser-a-via-rapida-do-gas-natural-na-europa-sim-se-franca-deixar/
[2] https://www.dinheirovivo.pt/economia/portugal-e-espanha-ja-acertaram-relancamento-do-mercado-iberico-do-gas/
[3] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/nov/09/fossil-fuel-infrastructure-climate-change
[4] https://climaximo.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/gas-transicao-para-a-catastrofe-joao-camargo/