The group from California includes more than a dozen senior members of the California Senate, Assembly and Executive branch and business leaders.
The event, held at the beautiful Taguspark Edifício Núcleo Central, included a welcome by American Club President Patrick Siegler-Lathrop as well as by Taguspark CEO Eduardo Correia, Deputy Mayor of Oeiras Francisco Rocha Gonçalves and Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy Kristin Kane. Speakers from California included Jay Hansen, president of the Foundation and Chris Holden, Chair of the Energy Committee of the California State Assembly. The high point of the presentations was a talk by João Matos Fernandes, Portuguese Minister of the Environment and Climate Action.
Mr. Siegler-Lathrop noted that in the U.S. Federal system, power is shared between states and the federal government, with each state having a full government structure. California, the most populous state with an economy that would rank it 5th in the world if it were a country, has taken a leadership role in promulgating legislation dealing with Climate Change and the Environment.
All the speakers spoke of the parallels between California and Portugal: similar geographical shape, a long Western ocean coastline, sunny climate, an exceptional wine industry but also, sadly, uncontrolled forest fires and severe drought. The California delegation said they came to learn from the experience of Portugal in reducing its emission of greenhouse gas, and to share some of their own experience in dealing with these issues - during their two-week trip, they will visit a number of companies and facilities in continental Portugal and in Madeira.
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Action lauded Portugal's progress in reaching its renewable and energy efficiency targets, nearly 40% of the country's energy is from renewal sources, and it is well on its way to meeting the target of Carbon Neutrality by 2050, aiming to reduce emissions between 85% and 90%, compared with 2005. The country has approved a National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030, aiming to be at the forefront of energy transition. Already a leader in producing wind energy, Portugal will accelerate its investment in solar - in 2019 and 2020, the country launched a solar energy auction beating the world record on price, at 11.26 euros per megawatt hour. By the end of 2021, Portugal will have closed all of its coal-fired power plants. Among the areas of new investments, the Minister emphasized the potential represented by green hydrogen and sustainable production of lithium, contributing to improving battery performance.
Minister Fernandes welcomed the partnership with California and urged investments from California in attractive innovations, contributing to Portugal's energy transformation.