Things are moving, slowly

It is fairly easy to get the impression that Portugal is an underdeveloped country when it comes to environmental issues and understanding. But the things are starting to look better.

In a recent article in the daily economy newspaper Jornal de negocios a comparison was made beyween the relative evolution of GNP and two environmental indicators, CO2 and sulphur emissions. And looks like this for 1995 and 2004:

Correlation or not between environmental impact and GNP?

In relative terms a very weak improvement CO2 per GNP and a definitive improvement in sulphur emissions in relative terms although they were on the same level. Because of EU directives the sulphur content of fossil fuels have gone down leading to improvements in energy "production" but instead transport and constructions has decreased the environmental efficiency over this period. It only points to fact that it is not economy but technology and effective regulations that govern environmental impact (many neoliberal economist want to claim the opposite).

That constructions is not efficient is fairly evident, things take time, quite literally, and newly build houses are falling part only 10 years after completion. An EU directive on certification of the energy efficiency of houses (similar to the labelling of white wares) came into force a few weeks, but there is a lack of technicians to perform the certification (Metro National Portugal 2007-01-26). Not to mention the lack of know-how on how to build sustainable and energy efficient houses and other buildings ... or rather the know-how has not been translated to the persons that own construction companies and those that lead the constructions. I have a feeling that the workers do as they are told even if they know the boss is wrong.

In the same issue of JdN it says that by 2010 half government and other authority competitions for constructions and other procurements should include environmental aspects. Again, the biggest hurdle is building up buyer competence.

On a more positive note S Pedro de Moel has been chosen as the first site in Portugal for the evaluation of wave energy. Also, energy wasting light bulbs is expected to soon be subjected to a CO2 emission tax. In more general terms the current government seem to positive to the increase of biogas and innovative solar energy installations.

Even so Portugal has just abided by to EU directives that demand environmental assessment and public feedback on programmes and plans that will have considerable environmental impact. I am not sure where they draw the line.

So, things are slowly moving in the right direction for Portugal.

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