This is the time for a new economy, say environmentalists

in News · 07-06-2020 10:00:00 · 0 Comments

Environmental associations say it's "now or never" and that this is the time for Portugal to choose a new economy and make choices that lead to the fight against climate change and respect for nature.

Regarding the World Environment Day, created by the UN, Lusa asked several environmental protection associations if the economic recovery after the covid-19 pandemic crisis could jeopardise the environmental goals and climate change. They all admitted this fear, but also that this is a great opportunity to change their lives.

Catarina Grilo, director of Conservation and Policies at the Associação Natureza Portugal, which works in partnership with the international World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), remembers this year's theme for the event, “Time for Nature” and one of its motives, “to take care of ourselves, we have to take care of nature”, to remember that the covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown the link between loss of biodiversity, zoonoses (diseases caused by microorganisms and transmitted by animals to man) and public health.

And he warns: "The choices that the Government makes now to foster economic recovery will determine the trajectory of our country in the next decade, considered decisive to face climate change and to stop the loss of biodiversity".

A similar warning was left by Paula Nunes da Silva, acting president of Quercus. The official says that short-term decisions must be consistent with the targets for 2030 and 2050, within the scope of the National Energy and Climate Plan, and in line with the requirements of the Paris Agreement, “to halt climate change, which are the greatest threat to humanity”.

Or also Ana Paz, a member of the National Directorate of LPN, who in direct speech says: “We cannot accept that economic growth continues to be promoted, when we know that land resources cannot support it and when we know that it cannot serves to improve the quality of life of populations. We need a stable, fair and truly sustainable economy, which is not possible on the basis of eternal growth”. Basically, defends the responsible, the budgets of the States should be based on the quality of life and not on the growth of the GDP.

When western countries are beginning to emerge from a health crisis, which, in addition to thousands of deaths and millions of infected people, devastated the economies, and when so much is said about economic recovery, it is also an alert that leaves Susana Fonseca, of the leadership of the Zero association. “It is essential to make Portuguese society more resilient to the different crises that we may / will have to face in the future”, and not return to “normal”, when “normal” is based on an economy that destroys the environment and opens the door to future pandemics.

And then she recalls that with the crisis caused by the covid-19, the climatic crises, the scarcity of resources or the loss of biodiversity have not disappeared.

"The indicators are clear in the very serious consequences that will result for all of us, if we do not promote a more harmonious relationship between our economic model and the limits of the Planet".

That is why Zero understands that the current crisis is an opportunity to move “in a clear way” in the fight against climate change and to reflect on the role of all humans in the existence of the pandemic, “due to environmental degradation” that the model of production and consumption fosters.

And that is why it argues that policies and measures that perpetuate vulnerabilities cannot be promoted. “Do not take advantage of this opportunity in which millions of Euros will be injected into society” to prevent the consequences of future pandemics, or of climate change, “can only be understood as a huge political irresponsibility and will make it clear that the current political leaders are not up to the task challenges, ”says Susana Fonseca.

Catarina Grilo also affirms that one cannot bet on the “old economy”, which depletes natural resources and degrades biodiversity, which is a pollutant and generates high emissions of greenhouse gases. To do so is to continue the “business as usual” that brought us here, she told Lusa.

What is needed, she added, is "to direct public support to sectors, activities and projects that are good for the planet and for the economy", such as democratising access to renewable energy, renovating buildings (more energy efficiency), bet on the railroad and end “freaks” like a new airport or flights less than 1:30 in duration.

The direction of the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) poses more challenges, starting by remembering that Portugal, with more than 20 percent of the territory classified as Natura 2000 Network, “can only benefit from policies that support biodiversity, with the creation of new business areas and new jobs in the management of protected areas, in the conservation and restoration of natural habitats and in the dynamism of nature and tourism territory”.

And then, in a country with so much sea and so much traditional agriculture, policies that favour sustainable fishing and agricultural production must be valued.

“Our leaders must be aware of this enormous potential in Portugal and work more with environmental non-governmental organisations”, says SPEA.


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