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2023-12-03 at 16h28

COP 28: What will the Azores be doing to become carbon neutral?

This is the first time the Azores are represented at COP, the world’s greatest climate change conference. The Roadmap presentation is included in the Portuguese Pavilion at COP28’s programme

The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change of the Azorean Regional Government, Alonso Teixeira Miguel, presented on Sunday 3 December the region’s Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality at the Portuguese Pavilion at COP28, in Dubai.

"Although the Azores’ contribution to global warming is residual, and that we are more victims of this phenomena that contributors to it occurring, this does not take away from our responsibility to contributing to its mitigation", claimed Alonso Teixeira Miguel, recalling the wake of destruction left by hurricane Lorenzo, in 2019, which caused estimated damages of 330 million euros.

The Azorean Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality, 100% funded by the European Union through REACT-EU, offers a series of proposals to achieve decarbonisation in 2050 in sectors such as transports, agriculture and forests, energy, waste, and wastewater. It establishes a "strategic vision" and explores cost-effective, technologically feasible and economically viable trajectories in various economic and demographic growth scenarios", the Regional Secretary explained. 

The measures to achieve carbon neutrality

The document divides the measures to be adopted into five sectors: Transports, Agriculture and Forests, Energy, Waste, and Wastewater.

In the Transports sector, measures are advised such as the use of biofuels, electrifying road transportation, the use of hydrogen for heavy freight, sustainable fuels in aviation, and electrifying the aircraft fleet for inter-island flights or improving maritime transportation efficiency.

In the Agriculture and Forests sector, replacing synthetic fertilisers with organic ones, having 10% of the total area of the Azores as forests, supplementing the feed of milking cows to reduce methane emissions, and reducing by 1% the number of cows as of 2040.

In the Energy sector, measures such as producing electricity without fossil fuels and resorting to green energy (wind, geothermal, solar, and waste recovery), and promoting energy efficiency in dwellings and offices.

In the Waste sector, the proposal envisages landfill zero, using biological and mechanical treatment systems, methane capture systems in pre-existing landfills and recovering energy from domestic and industrial waste, as well as producing organic compost for incorporation in agriculture.

Lastly, in the Wastewater sector, the Roadmap advises on measures such as the implementation of nitrification/denitrification systems at urban WWTPs to cut back on methane emissions or the gradual replacement of sceptic tanks with aerobic wastewater treatment systems.

The Azorean Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality went through a participatory process with both government and non-governmental bodies. It was presented in November 2022 and the works were concluded in October 2023 and presented publicly on 10 November. Prior to its approval, the document will be up for public consultation and discussed in the Government Council.

This is the first time the Azores are represented at COP, the greatest world conference on climate change. The Roadmap presentation is included in the Portuguese Pavilion at COP28  programme, which is running in Expo City, Dubai, until 12 December.