The second edition of a unique contest organised by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe was won by Portugal for handing out a licence to national gas and oil companies for drilling in the deep sea in the southwest of the country.
Portugal was said to have been the clear winner of gold in the 2018 European Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards. The winners are governments who waste taxpayers’ money on supporting dirty energy. Poland comes second and Spain third.
A Europe-wide digital campaign in March triggered people across Europe to vote for the three worst fossil fuel subsidies out of eight nominees in total.
The aim of the awards, set up by CAN Europe, is according to the organisation, “to expose the well-hidden ways in which European governments are using taxpayers’ money to support fossil fuels at the cost of the climate, the environment and people’s health, and increase the pressure to rapidly phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”
It said Portugal cruised to gold for handing out a license to national gas and oil companies for drilling in the deep sea in the Southern province of Alentejo, a protected biodiversity area and a tourism hotspot.
The European Union (EU) itself was awarded a special prize by CAN Europe for its support for gas infrastructure. In 2014-2016, the EU provided an average of €4bn spending on fossil fuels, most of which went to gas projects such as the Trans-Adriatic and Trans-Anatolian pipelines (TAP and TANAP).
Wendel Trio, director of CAN Europe, said: “Two years on from adopting the Paris Agreement, it is unacceptable to be pouring billions of public money into fossil fuels. It causes damage to people’s health, the climate, and makes no sense economically. The awards send a clear signal to European governments: now is the time to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The freed resources will be useful to enhance a clean and fair energy transition in Europe.”
“The EU also needs to demonstrate through the negotiations on the EU budget that there is no place for fossil fuels in EU funds. Instead, public finance should deliver higher climate ambition.”
Following this news, Francisco Ferreira, director of Zero in Portugal added: “It is unacceptable that the Portuguese government favours access to oil drilling companies on the coast, while the country has a leading role on pledging for ambitious climate action and is planning to become carbon neutral by 2050.”
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s largest coalition working on climate and energy issues and boasts over 140 member organisations in more than 30 European countries - representing over 44 million citizens.
This news comes days after a protest was staged in Lisbon last Saturday against prospecting for oil off the Algarve coast.
Over one thousand people took part in the protest to raise awareness about the dangers of accidents relating to prospecting.
The protest was called by a platform that unites 32 of the country’s main national and local environmental defence organisations, civic movements, councils and political parties.