In a report released this week, CAN-Europe, as the network is also known, examines the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (PNEC) of 24 EU members, with help from local environmental associations working on climate issues, such as Portugal’s ZERO association.

CAN-Europe highlights the fact that Portugal is among EU members most affected by energy poverty and argues that therefore its PNEC “should assess the challenge and define measures to improve thermal comfort and reduce energy bills”, above all to help low-income households.

The network states that in Portugal, as in Austria and Belgium, there is a lack of measures for real change and calls for more detailed measures, especially in the field of the energy efficiency of buildings.

It notes that some of the measures envisaged for the civil construction sector, such as the ‘Casa Eficiente’ (Efficient House) programme, are in line with the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, but have been shown to be insufficient to reduce energy consumption.

“There is a need for specific measures to be described in detail and quantified to understand why there might be better results in 2030,” the report states.

On transport, CAN-Europe notes that while this sector represents 25 percent of national emissions, there is a lack of detail and quantification in Portugal’s PNEC. National plans appear to reply on the electrification of road transport, “but it is not clear how [existing] barriers to the introduction of electric cars will be overcome,” it states, in a reference to problems such as a shortage of charging points in cities.

It also criticises the absence of references to other means of transport, such as aviation or shipping.

In a separate statement, ZERO said that the CAN-Europe report shows that “it is time to step up the pace!” Although the 24 countries’ preliminary plans are not adequate to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, there is still time for improvement.

It notes with approval that Portugal is one of the countries, along with Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and France, that are aiming to achieve zero net emissions by 2045 or 2050 at the latest.

Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Greece, meanwhile, are still heavily dependent on coal, while Italy and Ireland plan to continue investing in natural gas beyond 2030, despite the European Commission’s proposal for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

EU members had to submit their draft PNEC to the European Commission by the end of last year. The commission is now assessing the draft PNECs and by June should issue recommendations to member states that are deemed not to be contributing sufficiently to achieve the objectives, with the final plans - to be handed in by the end of this year - to take these into account.

Portugal’s draft plan sets the objective of reducing overall emissions to 37.8 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) with the proposed measures – a more ambitious goal than the 41 MtCO2e to be achieved with existing measures. However, ZERO notes, “it does not clarify what the specific level of emissions that correspond to sectors outside the European Emission Allowance Trading (CELE)”.

Portugal has also set itself the target of increasing the share of renewables in energy output to 47 percent by 2030, from 31 percent in 2020.