Although we are just one month into 2021, the past few weeks have shown to be eventful for the Portuguese Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes” (PEV) (“Ecologist Party ‘The Greens'”). While the 2021 Portuguese presidential election, which was held on January 24, amid a global health crisis and a national lockdown, did not yield encouraging results for Joao Ferreira, the Communist candidate formally endorsed by the PEV, the Greens just scored a significant victory in the capital of Lisbon.

On January 26, the Lisbon Municipal Assembly approved the PEV’s proposal for a Sustainable Urban Mobility program that would aim to decrease road traffic, and promote sustainable public transportation as well as bike and pedestrian lanes. A report formulated by the PEV, and incorporated in their proposal, states that about 370 000 vehicles drive through Lisbon every day, and that road transport amounts to nearly 25% of total emissions of greenhouse gases in Portugal.

“Approved proposal from #PEV for the elaboration of the Municipal Plan for Sustainable Urban Mobility. At today’s meeting, the Lisbon Municipal Assembly unanimously approved the proposal of the Municipal Group of the Green Party Os Verdes.”

This proposal is the result of years of work from Os Verdes to raise awareness for the lack of appropriate climate action in Portugal, specifically in light of the 2015 Paris Agreement., of which Portugal is a signatory state. Over the past 4 years, Os Verdes extensively campaigned in the national Assembly of the Republic to push for green actions that would fall in line with the Paris Agreement.

The capital of Lisbon has long been the most responsive city in the country with regards to the climate emergency, having laid out a Mobility Plan seeking to drastically reduce daily traffic in downtown Lisbon and favouring other non-polluting modes of transportation following the 2003 heatwave that struck Europe. This plan merely sought to address this specific crisis, and initial goals to reduce greenhouse emissions were dismissed just a few years later.

Os Verdes have argued that this new plan is only the first step on the path to a greener, socially just economy. Particularly, the party warns that Lisbon and Portugal are still lagging behind many European countries in terms of climate action. As it turns out, Lisbon is the very last capital city in southern Europe to implement a mobility plan in an attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, this significant political victory for the capital signifies hope that impactful climate action can be achieved in Portugal in the coming year.

Robin Vochelet

Robin Vochelet is in his fourth and final year at McGill University, currently pursuing a B.A. Honours in International Development Studies with a minor in Political Science. Originally from Strasbourg, France, he has a particular interest in politics and society of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as grassroots movements & civil society activism. In his free time, Robin is often seen visiting cute cafés around Montreal.

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