Portugal has once again been placed at the forefront of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world to live in or to visit.
While recent climate reports have painted a grim future of the well-being of the planet, a handful of countries, among them Portugal, have been singled out for their positive ecological contribution.
According to the Good Country Index, which aims to measure the impact a single country has on the wider world, Portugal has been ranked as the third most positive contributor.
The index takes into account a number of factors, including a country’s ecological footprint relative to the size of the economy and the percentage of renewable energy used.
“In our age of advanced globalisation and massive interdependence, everything sooner or later, has an impact on the whole system,” Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor who founded the index, was quoted as saying.
“I wanted to create the first index that measured the external impact of each country on the whole of humanity, the whole planet, outside its own borders.”
Following the release of these findings, the BBC ran a report to discover why countries like Portugal are much greener than its neighbours.
It says that Portugal was an early leader in investing in a full network of charging stations for electric cars (which was free until just recently), and has incentivised citizens to install solar power and renewable energy with lower rates and the opportunity to sell energy back to the grid.
Recycling and composting is a normal way of life, the report continues, adding that there are specialised bins in every neighbourhood, including one for batteries. Education has played a big role in making everyday green efforts a reality, it found.
This follows on news that Portugal intends to more than double the production of renewable electricity by 2030, mainly through solar energy, under Portugal’s National Energy and Climate Plan 2030.
According to the plan, renewables are expected to represent 80 percent of electricity consumption in Portugal in 2030.
In 2018, renewable output supplied 52 percent of national consumption, with wind and hydroelectric plants each accounting for 23 percent, biomass 5 percent and photovoltaic 1.5 percent.
Portugal has seen its reliance on fossil fuels drop considerably over the years and last May, managed to run the country for three consecutive days on renewable energy alone.
Green energy currently supplies just over half of Portugal’s annual electricity needs, saving the country around 750 million euros in fossil fuel imports.
Portugal also performed well in the latest Climate Change Performance Index and was placed first in terms of policies to counter the effects of climate change.
In keeping with the theme to keep Portugal as environmentally friendly as possible, Portugal introduced the Green Visa at the beginning of the year.
Investment in organic agriculture, renewable energy, ecotourism and a wide range of environmental projects will see foreigners now be allowed to gain a residency permit and eventually Portuguese nationality.
André Silva, leader and sole MP for PAN, said after the vote that “the approval of the Green Visa will serve to reinforce Portugal’s role in attracting international ecological investment, while simultaneously ensuring the transition to a circular and carbon-free economy.”
Meanwhile, Lisbon has also been handed the title of European Green Capital 2020. More than 30 European cities were in the running for the title, but it was the Portuguese capital that emerged victorious. It is the first time ever that a capital city in southern Europe has bagged the accolade.
The jury felt that Lisbon – which started its journey towards sustainability during a period of economic crisis – can be an inspiration and a role-model for many cities across the EU, demonstrating clearly that sustainability and economic growth go hand in hand.
The expert panel highlighted that Lisbon is particularly strong in the field of sustainable land use, sustainable urban mobility (transport), green growth and eco innovation, climate change adaptation and waste.