Lisbon and Cascais lead the way towards carbon neutrality
Lisbon and Cascais are the only municipalities among the 308 in the country that meet the four requirements for neutrality, according to the recently released Municipal Climate Action Map, which also shows that only these two municipalities and Azambuja already have a roadmap for carbon neutrality, that is, they already have a defined plan to achieve this goal.
Cascais was the first municipality in the country to have a roadmap for carbon neutrality, a document that the municipality presented in December 2019 at COP25, which took place in Madrid. “Cascais is one of the case studies more relevant because it was the first to define a roadmap and has implemented a series of measures, both in terms of adaptation and mitigation of climate change”, explains to DN Gonçalo Azevedo Silva, senior advisor at Get2C – the company that produced the Municipal Climate Action Map -, he also pointed Cascais as “a cutting-edge municipality”, since it has “several projects, from hydrogen buses, renewable energy communities, separation of bio-waste, oil tanks”, between others.
A sign of its pioneering spirit, Cascsis was distinguished by the UN at COP27, which ended Sunday, as one of the 50 most innovative cities in the world for its energy transition policies and climate action.
Gonçalo Azevedo Silva also considers that Lisbon has also been very ambitious. “It was recently the European Green Capital, it has been working hard on the issue of low-emission zones, it has also invested in cycle paths and shared bicycles, it has promoted the use of active mobility vehicles. Lisbon has many examples”,
The Lisbon City Council announced in July that it would anticipate by 20 years, that is, to 2030, the objectives set for the decarbonization of the city. Among the measures already taken or still planned by the municipality are public lighting using LEDs, the Lisboa Solar project, the use of wastewater for irrigation and street washing, free public transport, construction of dissuasive car parks and maintaining investment in public transport.
Azambuja completes the trio of municipalities that already have a municipal roadmap for carbon neutrality, not yet remaining as advanced as Lisbon and Cascais because it fails one of the four necessary requirements: not having an energy strategy. The other items that must be fulfilled are having a strategy or plan for adapting to climate change, having a commitment to carbon neutrality and also having a roadmap to achieve this goal.
The roadmap for this municipality in the district of Lisbon, approved by the municipality on September 1, has a total of 23 mitigation measures that will allow the municipality to reach carbon neutrality in 2050. Among these measures are the electrification of transport, a greater commitment to smooth and participatory mobility, the reduction of per capita waste and the improvement of forestry productivity. “We are talking about a relatively small municipality, it has less than 25 thousand inhabitants and, even so, managed to speed up the path towards carbon neutrality. It is a fantastic example, because it is ahead of many large municipalities”, highlighted Gonçalo Azevedo Silva.
In the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon, it is also worth mentioning Setúbal, which is one of the 18 municipalities in the country that fulfill three of the four requirements. All others are in a lower position.
Goal of 2045 is possible
Data revealed by the Municipal Climate Action Map show that only 35 municipalities (11%), among the 308 in the country, were committed to carbon neutrality, with only three – Lisbon, Cascais and Azambuja – having a roadmap. This is a worrying figure, taking into account that the Climate Base Law, in force since February 1, obliges municipalities to define a Municipal Climate Action Plan by February 2024.
“A municipality assumes the commitment to reach carbon neutrality represents the first step and only 35 have done so is something worrying. I cannot find any reason that could justify this”, says Gonçalo Azevedo Silva, admitting that “there is a considerable number of municipalities that want to start the roadmap for carbon neutrality”, so he is optimistic that this number can “increase”.
Despite these delays, I believe that it will be possible for Portugal to achieve carbon neutrality in 2045, as announced by Prime Minister António Costa at COP27, anticipating the goal by five years. “I think it’s 100% possible. It is necessary for the municipalities to accelerate, but the truth is that the Climate Base Law only brought this orientation about eight months ago”, he gave up, leaving another message of optimism: “From the signs that we are receivable from the municipalities, we believe they are concerned about climate change and proof of this is that 79% of the municipalities already have a plan to make the adaptation, now work and accelerate the issue of mitigation, through the elaboration of the script”, he concludes.