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2022-11-07 at 17h00

Portugal is ripe to be carbon neutral earlier, by 2045

Prime Minister António Costa at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), Egypt, 7 November 2022

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said that Portugal is creating the conditions to bring the target of being carbon neutral forward, from 2050 to 2045 through progress in public transportation, hydrogen, and the end of coal-fuelled power stations.

António Costa shared this position in the first of his two days attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) being held in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt until 18 November.

The Prime Minister, whose speech at COP27 is scheduled for 8 November, said that he will not simply reiterate the environmental targets set by Portugal in Marrakech in 2016, rather he is getting geared to "announce the new targets" that stem from the Climate Law approved by Parliament.

"The goal is not simply to be carbon neutral by 2050, and we were the first country to set that target at the COP in Marrakech [in 2016], rather, as envisaged in the law, study and do everything we can to bring this target forward to 2045", he stated.

Factors for the green transition

According to António Costa, "the country is in a condition to set this new target, as first of all, in two years we managed to decommission our coal-fuelled power stations".

"The fact that we are speeding up our green transition and have sustained policies to invest in public transportation and rail systems on a national level sets the ground for this to happen", he completed, before alluding to a third factor in terms of the green transition.

António Costa then explained that Portugal "defined a national hydrogen strategy that will aid industry, until now quite dependent on natural gas".

"Industry will have an alternative power source. This will be decisive for the transition to succeed and for us to stop importing fossil fuels in the future and start exporting green energy", he sustained.

Alluding to the recent agreement with Spain and France to create "a green corridor" connecting the European Union energy wise, the Prime Minister said that "a fundamental step" was taken following that political commitment.

"All the efforts we are making are important for us to succeed and brig forward as much as possible the target of being carbon neutral", he said, adding that "if some don’t bring this forward, given the slow pace at which others are moving, it will be difficult to reach the Paris Agreement targets" set in 2015.

Renewables lower electricity and gas prices

"What has been prove nis that the more we move towards renewables, the less dependent we will be on third countries and the less dependent also on the volatility of international gas markets", he underlined.

António Costa claimed that even if electricity prices in Portugal are currently lower than the EU average, "this is because 60% of the power consumed comes from renewable sources".

"As such, the target we have to reach by the end of this term in office [2026] of 80% of energy consumed is based on renewables. The Iberian solution, which avoids the excessive contamination of electricity prices from gas prices works well because we have a high rate of power produced from renewable sources", he explained.

On the contrary, from the Prime Minister’s point of view, for the countries that have a very low rate of power produced using renewables, the solution in force for Portugal and Spain is not applied "because they don’t stand to benefit from it".

"What is happening is that renewables are withstanding the additional cost of gas and share this benefit with the consumers", he advocated.

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