Dozens of Californian and Portuguese businessmen, members of the California state legislature, mayors of Oeiras, diplomats and representatives of civil society independent this Saturday night, in the central nucleus of Tagus Park, for the event ‘California / Portugal: An Exceptional Partnership ‘, promoted by the Municipality of Oeiras, Taguspark and the American Club of Lisbon.
After a conference with the participation of the Minister of Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, and the vice-president of the Municipality of Oeiras, Francisco Rocha Gonçalves, the crowd gathered – amidst appetizers and praise of the first ones to the Portuguese wine – to discuss what they could learn from each other. In areas as diverse as combating climate change, the forest fires that afflict both California and Portugal, pondering how to create a closer relationship with the sea, or how the Portuguese public health system can serve as a model for California .
“This is an opportunity for us to continue to strengthen our relationship and friendship, globally, but also when it comes to saving the planet,” argues Chris Holden, California state congressman, a Democratic stronghold who has climate change at the top of its political agenda, vis-à-vis other American states ruled by deniers.
“This is an existential threat, not just for California, but for the world. And to face this threat, we have to learn from each other,” Holden appealed. Not that it’s easy. “I’m not sure we stayed one step ahead of the problem,” he lamented. “Every year we have catastrophic forest fires that devastate our state and set records.”
“With regard to the energy transition and climate crisis, without these common ties, we will have many problems to overcome the challenges of the 21st century”, agreed Rocha Gonçalves, safeguarding that these efforts “have to be combined with a model that is sustainable, but that it continues to allow the evolution of the quality of life standards that populations “. Adding: “All of us who are politicians know that if we do not have the support of the population, we cannot make the necessary reforms.”
The vice-president of the Oeiras City Council did not spare praise for Tagus Park, one of the focuses of his executive. “This is the main technological park in Portugal”, he points out. “Oeiras, to a large extent, is a municipality focused on technology, innovation and knowledge”, continued Rocha Gonçalves, criticizing the pre-1985 economic model, that is, pre-Isaltino Morais, a model “based on polluting industry or agriculture anachronistic, not very productive”.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Action reinforced Portugal’s leading role in the fight against climate change. “We have already reduced our needs by 26%”, studied Matos Fernandes, thanking the increase in international cooperation with the Executive of Joe Biden. “I listened to President Biden, to his commitment to the effort you are going to make. But to give you an idea, President Biden’s great commitment is half the effort we are making in Europe.”