Porto Climate Pact aims at mobilizing all members of society to achieve more ambitious goals

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The Porto Climate Pact was presented, last Monday, during the public meeting of the Executive – an initiative through which the municipality intends to bring society together in a commitment to ambitious goals with regard to carbon neutrality.

The invitation has been made and is extended to everyone: “Institutions, academia, companies. This can only be achieved if we all come together”, underlined the vice-mayor of Porto, Filipe Araújo, during the presentation he made of the Porto Climate Pact. “As of today, it will have a website, and any institution, public or private, can sign the pact”, he reinforced.

The initiative promoted by the Municipality of Porto corresponds to a reinforced ambition in the pursuit of environmental goals, highlighted the councilor responsible for the Environment and Climate Transition:

“We have dedicated enormous efforts to our environmental causes, seeking to lead the agenda. We preside the Eurocities Network Environment Forum. We have aligned our challenges and ambitions with the European agenda. We subscribe to the Green City Agreement and the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy”, emphasized Filipe Araújo, noting that the established objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60%, by 2030, is already practically achieved. “By 2019, we reached 48% of this reduction. We are very close to attaining the goal now”, he congratulated.

“The role of Porto and the municipality is, in a way, limited, because we are only responsible for 6% of gas emissions in the city. The majority comes from buildings and transport, 90%, and it will require a major decarbonization effort in the coming years. Carbon neutrality is an opportunity for a fair and equitable transition”, said the vice-mayor of Porto.

“We are sure that it is perfectly possible to achieve carbon neutrality within the next decade. The city must assume a collective effort, with the participation of all the inhabitants, the Government, the European Commission. We want to be a more resilient city, committed to energy efficiency, energy production and storage. We cannot forget that in this decarbonization process there is a paradigm shift, circularity is essential. This design can introduce new opportunities for economic activity and job creation”, pointed out Filipe Araújo, appealing to “institutions, academia, and companies” to join the initiative.

On the website of Pacto do Porto para o Clima you can find a set of information on actions with environmental impact, but also funding opportunities to implement. The interested parties may subscribe the document on a voluntary non-binding and free of charge basis. “It is a major goal of the city for 2030, a strong ambition, but in Porto it couldn’t be any other way. I am sure that we will be able to have the city united in this plan”, pointed out the councilman.

This ambition of the municipality was praised by the executive, with the socialist Rosário Gambôa greeting the “educational concern to mobilize people”. “The climate is the cause of our times, which should mobilize us all”, she said.

For BE, Sérgio Aires greeted the name of the initiative: “Pact is a strong word, which implies the construction of a consensus with the participation of civil society and the citizens. We are reaching the goal earlier, but we cannot underestimate that the year 2020 was absolutely atypical”, he warned.

Ilda Figueiredo, from CDU, agreed that “it is necessary to place these issues in action”, highlighting “three very important areas: mobility and transport; energy and its links to housing construction.”

The future of energy

Responding to the communist councilwoman, Filipe Araújo considered the energy production a “core” issue. “That is why, we changed the company status, to become Águas e Energia do Porto. Aware of the importance of the energy issue for the future, we have already started specific projects on energy communities”, explained the vice-president, admitting that “the great intention is to have all the municipal roofs of the city in photovoltaic production. By producing that energy, we will be able to have people paying less. We are making more efficient buildings, more than 100 million have been invested in the city’s housing projects”.

Questioned by councilman Vladimiro Feliz, who alluded to the severe drought that the country is living and questioned about the absence of a strategy for desalination, Filipe Araújo considered that “there is a long way to go before we get there. First, we have to think about the reuse of water from WWTPs. We are strongly committed, we have a planned investment of 45 million in the WWTPs, we want to evolve in these treatments to have quality water to be reused”, he pointed out.

Twin “high speed” rail bridge for railway

The Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, also referred to the works planned for the duplication of the Porto-Lisboa railway line, whose studies recommend the creation of a “mirror-bridge”, namely, the widening of S. João bridge”.

“There is no project, only a definition and the recognition that S. João bridge is not enough to increase this transport, which will require a parallel bridge”, explained the councilman for Urbanism, Pedro Baganha, to journalists, on the sidelines of the meeting. “What was presented to us was a preview (image) that shows S. João bridge with a parallel twin”, he added.

Campanhã will be “the big railway terminal” of the new channel in the city and the degree of uncertainty that exists right now has to do with “the development of the lines north of Porto”. “It’s very likely that this line will also pass through the airport, but as far as the municipality of Porto is concerned the central station will remain Campanhã”, concluded Pedro Baganha.

Answering Vladimiro Feliz, who had questioned about the safety and the impact on the mobility system of the BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) Boavista – Império line, the mayor of Porto pointed out this was a Metro do Porto project.

“It is not a City Hall decision, it’s a decision of Metro do Porto. We are following up the process. We won’t be able to have public and collective transport, as an alternative to individual transport, without impact. It is an impossible equation. The idea that people will continue making their commutes using the car is impossible. Either we prepare now, or this will go wrong”, reinforced Rui Moreira, acknowledging that the advantages are not always immediately perceived: “I am well aware of the political consequences, surely, I lost votes because of that. People still think their car is Lucky Luke’s horse.”