The Minister of Environment and Energy Transition today praised the role of the Armed Forces in the environmental aspect, and said he wants to anticipate the carbon neutrality of 2050 to 2045 and rejected an economic development based on the use of fossil fuels.
"Portugal has played a leading role in international commitments in climate action. We were pioneers, as early as 2016, in the commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, which we want to bring forward to 2045," said Duarte Cordeiro today, having stressed that the government rules out any possibility of basing economic development on the use of fossil fuels and recalled the closure of coal-fired power plants on national soil, the last of which is in Pego (Abrantes), in November 2021.
Duarte Cordeiro was speaking in Constância, Santarém, where he delivered, together with the Minister of National Defense, Helena Carreiras, the 29th National Defense and Environment award to the Army Mechanized Brigade (BrigMec), at Campo Militar de Santa Margarida, for the environmental management system developed by this military unit and which competed with a project 'BrigMec's Contribution to Sustainable Development'.
"This award, since 1993, reflects this fruitful partnership, much older, and recognizes that only with a joint action of the different governmental areas is it possible to achieve the goals we set ourselves in terms of environment and climate action, which, as we know, are extremely demanding," said the minister.
According to Duarte Cordeiro, "achieving carbon neutrality in Portugal requires emission reductions of more than 85% to meet the target in relation to 2045, and a carbon sequestration capacity through the use of soil and forests of 13 million tons of carbon per year.
"To achieve it, it is also necessary to change the linear economic model in which we extract, consume and dispose to a circular economic model, regenerative in the use of resources (?) because only this way we will be able to save resources (material and financial) and valorize the territory, thus ensuring conditions for the reduction of emissions and the promotion of carbon sequestration", defended, having praised the project of the Pupils of the Army, which won an honorable mention.
"We discard basing economic development on the use of fossil fuels" and, "therefore, we closed our coal-fired power plants, whose emissions, in 2017, came to represent about 17% of the national total," he recalled, and noted that the bet is, "increasingly, in renewable energy" in Portugal.
According to the governor, between 2013 and 2022, the country won "a capacity of 5 GW in renewables and only the two coal-fired plants (1.8 GW) left the system," and noted that "renewables account for about 16.3 GW of installed capacity.
In terms of electricity production, he added, "in 2020 and 2021 renewable energy was around 60% of total production" and "solar went from 3% of total renewable production in 2015 to about 11% in 2022," anticipating shortening the term of another goal.
"In the next two years another 2.8 GW of new capacity may enter based on the licenses already allocated. That is, we will double the installed solar capacity, which allows us, with optimism, but realism, to consider that we will anticipate our 2030 goals already in 2026," he said.
For the Minister of National Defense, "today, more than a solid commitment to protect the planet, the promotion of environmental sustainability in the Defense sector is also seen as a key contribution to increasing national resilience and capacity building.
In this sense, "in order to respond" to the different challenges and three years after the beginning of the implementation of the Environmental Directive for National Defense, Helena Carreiras said that "the time has come for its revision", and that one should "correspond to the current moment and move forward with a National Defense Strategy for the Environment, with special focus on Climate Change and the operational impact" on the Armed Forces.
"In a decade in which we are constantly confronted by the younger generations about the reason for inaction in the face of climate facts, it is therefore urgent to take more measures and act decisively," she said.
The Military Camp of Santa Margarida covers 63 hectares, of which 60 are forest lands. Around 900 people work daily in its various units, including military and civilian personnel. The winning project, called 'BrigMec's contribution to Sustainable Development', consists of an integrated environmental, energy and agro-forestry management system.
The jury of the competition, open to all branches of the Armed Forces and to which three projects, all from the Army, competed, also awarded an Honorable Mention to the application from the Army Pupils Institute (IPE) called "A Tiny Forest at IPE".
The National Defense and Environment Award, created in 1993, annually distinguishes the unit that best contributes to the quality of the environment, from a sustainable development perspective, through the efficient use of natural resources, the promotion of good land management practices, the protection and enhancement of natural heritage, landscapes and biodiversity.