Film director António-Pedro Vasconcelos, who is also one of the leading members of an association that has had some success in blocking the privatisation of the national airline, TAP, explained to Lusa News Agency that the manifesto was “signed by more than 100 figures from Portuguese society, from teachers to artists”.
“That manifesto gave rise to the movement, whose aim is mobilising public opinion to oppose what we consider is an environmental, economic and social crime, namely in the Algarve region,” Vasconcelos said, in a reference to the licences issued by the state to international consortiums for prospecting for natural gas and oil onshore and offshore in Portugal, above all in the Algarve.
It is the Algarve that is, according to the film director, the one that “is most exposed and which would be most affected” by any environmental problems caused by drilling for oil, “given that it is a region that lives from tourism”. Especially the less developed far western end, which forms part of a natural reserve, and the eastern end around the town of Tavira, attracts the kind of tourist who seeks clean beaches and unspoilt natural settings.
Oil and gas are, Vasconcelos argued, “in counter-cycle” to current developments in the energy world, given the issue of climate change and the commitment of Portugal and other countries to reduce their carbon emissions, while “the economic losses relative to what is received [from them] will be enormous.”
The contracts already signed, he said, have been “done in a way that leaves doubts from the legal point of view” as they were “not at all transparent”.
Dozens of environmental associations and movements, above all from the Algarve, that have been campaigning against drilling for oil and gas in the region were represented at the launch.
According to Vasconcelos, campaigners are pondering seeking a legal injunction to block the implementation of contracts already signed - a step already taken earlier by the Association of Algarve Municipalities (AMAL).