Carta Aberta a Barack Obama
Open letter to the speakers at the Climate Change Leadership Porto Summit 2018 Barack Obama, Mohan Munasinghe, Irina Bokova, Juan Verde
We, a group of non-governmental organisation and environmental activists, want to draw your attention to the most urgent problems affecting our country with regards to Climate Change.
You are visiting a country, which is a world champion - not in football, but in wildfires. In proportion to its land area, there is no other country in the world with more severe wildfires, that torch our landscapes each and every year and that kills human beings and numerous other living beings since decades, having since 2017 assumed proportions never seen before.
In proportion to its area, Portugal has the highest density of eucalyptus plantations in the world. Eucalyptus is well-known as a fire-promoting species and called gasoline tree in its motherland, Australia.
According to the FAO and Eurostat, in a quarter of a century (1990-2015) the country lost a quarter of a million hectares of forest, with special impact on native species. On an annual average, the deforestation rate in this country corresponds to the total area of its capital, Lisbon (about 10 thousand hectares each year). According to Global Forest Watch, between 2001 and 2014 Portugal recorded the fourth highest percentage of forest cover loss (plantations not included), standing in the rankings after Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Namibia.
You are lecturing about Climate Changing in a country which is crowded with large dams and in which the government is planning to build even more. The economic and political leaders in our country consider dams as part of the Renewable Energy Mix. We, as well as the majority of environmentalists in the world, doubt this. How can be an industry be ecologically sustainable if it pours millions of tons of cement to build one single dam? How can be this industry be called renewable, if it destroys forever natural environments, large habitats of endemic fauna and flora species; if it submerges vast extensions of native forest and fruit crops, letting them rotten and, instead of capturing CO2, emits methane, a known greenhouse gas, dozens of times more effective in warming our planet than CO2?
Portugal favors two types of energy facilities, large dams with its power generators and wind energy parks, both with heavy environmental impact. Why is a country with such a strong insulation not harvesting more solar energy and not promoting energy efficiency?
Portugal has been gifted with a large coastline with beautiful beaches, which makes it a favorite tourist resort for tourists from all over the world. The Portuguese government, in tight collaboration with the domestic and foreign fuel industry, is eager to carry out a number of deep drillings offshore and onshore for future crude oil and gas exploration, without any legally demanded and binding environmental impact analysis studies. As anyone versed in the matter understands, this is an outdated and highly polluting technology. To mitigate the impacts of Climate Change we must discontinue the use of fossil fuels and cannot invest high amounts of capital in its future exploration with all its expected environmental hazards.
It seems that we are ever more trapped in technicistic discussion, even in the political arena, at the decision-making level. But, in actuality, we are dealing with an ethical issue, the world of our grandchildren. And in this regard we, all of us humans, have all reasons to be worried.
We therefore ask you to take a decisive and public stand towards a clean future for all, to the halting of all investments in fossil fuels, to put an end to large hydro power plants and to promote energy efficiency and the massive plantation of endemic, broadleaf species in detriment of exotic eucalyptus, invasive acacia as well as maritime pine plantations, which form huge monocultures.
For a better, a beautiful, ethical and livable world for all and future generations, please accept our most sincere,
Acréscimo, Associação de Promoção ao Investimento Florestal
Aliança pela Floresta Autóctone
Alvorecer Florestal, Movimento pela Floresta Autóctone
Campo Aberto, Associação de Defesa do Ambiente
GEOTA, Grupo de - Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e de Ambiente
Movimento Gaio, Associação de Defesa do Ambiente
proTEJO - Movimento Pelo Tejo
Paulo Pimenta de Castro,