Portugal 2020: Sustainability goals for a brighter future

Portugal 2020 Sustainability goals for a brighter future

Government Europa explains Portugal 2020 with an emphasis on PO SEUR, the programme transforming Portugal’s future in sustainability and efficiency

Portugal and the European Commission are working together on a range of programmes, all of which are based around the framework of their 2020 goals. Sustainability, reallocation of resources and renewable energy are key areas of focus for the Portuguese Government and the PO SEUR 2020 programme sets out to provide the best possible foundation for a sustainable future.

PO SEUR stands for Operational Programme for Sustainability and Efficient Use of Resources and was established as one of the 16 programmes created for the operationalisation of the Portugal 2020 strategy in a bid to enhance economic, social and territorial development policies of Portugal. The PO SEUR consists of three priority axis of development; to support the transition to a low carbon economy in all sectors, to promote climate change adaptation and risk prevention/management, and to protect the environment and promote more efficient use of resources.

Axis I: Support the transition to a low carbon economy in all sectors

The European Commission’s low-carbon roadmap suggests that by 2030, the EU should cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40% compared to the levels in 1990, in order to achieve this goal across Europe the Commission have funded projects such as PO SEUR to enable the transition to decarbonisation a smooth and feasible one. Within axis I, PO SEUR allocated €757m for research and implementation of a low carbon economy.
This year Portugal reached a huge milestone in its renewable energy production; this March they produced more renewable energy than they needed. According to data from the country’s power grid, renewable energy – mainly produced from wind and solar power – made up an average of 104% of the electricity consumption.

Despite this, Portugal still needs to work on the distribution and management of renewable energy in buildings; ensuring they are energy efficient in terms of smart energy solutions, including smart meters, and also ensuring housing and building infrastructure is efficient. Examples include; installation of thermal insulation in walls, roofs and floors, replacement of single glass windows to double glass and efficient interior and exterior lighting. Axis I of Portugal’s 2020 sustainability scheme will allow for greater development of these aspects, meaning the boost in renewable energy production will not go to waste and will be used and distributed efficiently.

Portugal’s 2020 sustainability programme also aims to support the promotion of sustainable and ecological transport and mobility under axis I in a hope to reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced from cars and transport systems. Under PO SEUR the eligible operations which are believed to be integral to enable cleaner transport include:

  • Technological upgrades of electric charging points which are readily available to the public, this is through the adaptation of public charge points for common standards to the entire EU;
  • Extension of the public charge points network in public spaces;
  • Measures and actions to promote electric mobility on a national level.

Through funding in this area, PO SEUR estimate that in 2020, 31% of the gross energy consumption and 10% of energy in the transport sector will be from renewable energy sources; figures which seem highly achievable given Portugal’s recent success.

Axis II: Promote climate change adaptation and risk prevention and management

Portugal is one of the European countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, because of this the scope of the Portugal 2020 PO SEUR aims to reinforce the national capacity to adapt to climate change. This takes into consideration the variety of risks association with climate change that could affect national territory. The effects of anthropogenic emissions and climate factors can include coastal erosion or forest fires, the PO SEUR axis II aims to support adaptation and management around the negative effects.
The Portugal 2020 sustainability programme has set out investment and research goals based around climate change in axis II, with an allocation of €401m. The developments include adopting cross-cutting, sectorial and territorial measures. Funding more innovation and knowledge around the subject will aim to benefit Portugal through the restructure and modernisation of meteorology systems and ensuring Portugal is sustainable via their ability to be prepared for all possible outcomes of climate change.

The issue of coastal erosion needs to be addressed under axis II and the Portuguese Government are working alongside the Commission in the PO SEUR programme to enable the protection and rehabilitation of natural coastal systems through restoration of the sedimentary dynamics balance. However, one of the main worries around coastal erosion is related to the dangers associated with the instability of cliffs. Portugal have been using the funding to try and minimise the risks associated with unstable cliff edges which have been corroded and therefore pose a danger to the public.

Axis III: Protect the environment and promote resource efficiency

The third axis of development has been allocated over €1bn which is around 46% of the overall programme funds. Development in the circular economy and ensuring waste is disposed of correctly is crucial to ensure a sustainable future and the Portuguese Government distributed €306m from this development axis towards the waste sector alone.
Portugal’s main objectives in waste management include waste recovery by reducing production and landfill and increasing selective collection and recycling. Using innovative alternatives to materials – such a biodegradable plastics – is one of the ideologies which has been adopted from PO SEUR and they state that they will improve their waste sector by:

  • More actions going forward for the prevention of the production and hazardousness of waste, including education;
  • Increasing multi-material recycling;
  • Optimisation and reinforcement of multi-material screening infrastructures;
  • Support for systems and initiatives for the selective collection of biodegradable municipal waste.

Axis III also focuses on topics such as preserving and managing biodiversity, ecosystems and geological resources as well as issues around water systems. Portugal are aiming to improve their infrastructure to better manage their existing resources, this will aim to guarantee the quality and sustainability of systems within the scope of the urban water cycle ad hopefully reduce and control losses in the distribution and supply systems; an important aspect of the circular economy and resource efficiency. Overall, the water investment section of axis III has been allocated a €634m cohesion fund.

 

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