April 19. 2024. 7:56

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Portugal’s renewables, air quality better than OECD average: report

Portugal performs well in areas such as renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions and air quality but needs to improve in waste recovery and the circular economy, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its fourth review of Portugal’s environmental performance on Tuesday, providing 26 recommendations to help it “strengthen policy coherence to drive a green economic recovery” and make progress on carbon neutrality and sustainable development.

Among the main environmental indicators, for 2021, the percentage of renewable energies in the total energy supply is 29%, with the OECD average at 12% and the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions ‘per capita’, which is 5.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, while the OECD average is 10.5 tonnes.

In the average exposure of the population to fine particles (PM2.5), one of the main atmospheric pollutants, Portugal is also better positioned, and it is slightly better in municipal waste per capita.

In the recovery of municipal waste materials, the percentage of composting and recycling in the total treatment is in Portugal 28%, while the average in the OECD is 34%, an average also higher than Portugal in the area of the circular economy.

“Portugal is lagging in relation to the circular economy,” the document reads, adding that “urban waste generation grew faster than the economy. In 2020, Portugal generated more urban waste ‘per capita’ than the European average. It was also one of the countries with the highest landfill rates.” And for 2020, the country “did not meet most of its waste targets”

Regarding urban wastewater treatment, Portugal is well above the EU average with 92% compared to 76%, the OECD said. Agricultural water collection, however, has increased by around 25% since the mid-2010s.

The OECD also warns that the state of habitats and species has deteriorated.

Portugal reserves 0.7% of its GDP for environmental protection spending, with the European Union average being 0.9% and the OECD average of 0.5%.

But the OECD “wins” in the budget for research and development in the area of environment and energy, with 6.4% of public spending on research and development, while in Portugal, it only reaches 4.3%.

The report highlights the threats posed by climate change, such as droughts, and advises that more should be done to “improve knowledge and monitor progress on adaptation policies, and increase the value of rural areas for climate change mitigation and adaptation.”