Portugal has made notable strides in decoupling several environmental pressures from economic growth during the period of 2013-2019. The country has also played a leading role in the approval of the European Climate Law and, more recently, adopted its own Portuguese Framework Climate Law in 2021. It is crucial that these laws are implemented promptly to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, enhance climate resilience, and safeguard ecosystems. Although Portugal has increased its efforts towards adaptation, it needs to take more action to address multiple threats, including coastal erosion, floods, droughts, and forest fires. Waste management remains a significant challenge for the country, and the increasing freshwater abstractions in water-scarce southern regions pose a growing concern.
This review is the fourth Environmental Performance Review of Portugal and provides a well-founded assessment of the country’s progress towards achieving its environmental objectives over the last decade. The report offers 26 recommendations aimed at supporting Portugal in enhancing its environmental performance, with a special emphasis on achieving carbon neutrality.
Portugal’s successful decoupling of several environmental pressures from economic growth can be attributed to various policies and measures, including the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as the implementation of sustainable transport systems. The country has also taken several steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as the establishment of a national program for forest fire management and the development of coastal zone management plans. Nevertheless, the review highlights the need for further action to address the aforementioned environmental challenges, especially in light of Portugal’s ambitious carbon neutrality target.
The implementation of the Portuguese Framework Climate Law will be a crucial step towards achieving this goal. The law outlines several measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including the introduction of a carbon pricing system, the promotion of sustainable land use practices, and the deployment of renewable energy sources. It also establishes an independent climate council to monitor and evaluate the country’s progress towards achieving carbon neutrality. Effective implementation of these measures will be essential for Portugal to achieve its environmental targets and safeguard the wellbeing of its citizens and ecosystems.
In terms of adaptation, Portugal has developed several initiatives aimed at improving its resilience to climate change impacts. For instance, the country has implemented a national strategy for adapting to climate change, which includes measures such as the promotion of climate-resilient agriculture practices and the enhancement of water resource management. However, the review identifies the need for additional measures to address the multiple threats faced by the country, such as the impacts of coastal erosion and flooding on infrastructure and human settlements.
Waste management remains a significant challenge for Portugal, with the country lagging behind other European nations in terms of waste reduction and recycling. The review recommends the implementation of a circular economy approach, which involves reducing waste generation, promoting sustainable consumption patterns, and enhancing recycling and reuse practices. It also emphasizes the importance of improving waste management infrastructure and implementing effective policies and regulations to encourage waste reduction and recycling.
Finally, the review identifies the increasing freshwater abstractions in water-scarce southern regions as a growing concern. The review recommends the implementation of effective water management practices, including the promotion of water efficiency and the establishment of sustainable water use policies. It also highlights the need for better monitoring and management of water resources, particularly in regions where water scarcity is a pressing issue.