Framework Law on the Climate
The new Framework Law on the Climate (Law 98/2021 of 31 December) was published on 31 December 2021. This new Law repeals Law 93/2001 of 20 August and establishes the guiding principles of climate policy and governance. It also introduces targets and provides for mechanisms to combat climate change, to decarbonise the economy and to achieve sustainable development.
The Framework Law on the Climate is a comprehensive and programme-based law that focuses on various sectors, including the energy industry, construction, agriculture and fisheries. It also addresses financial assets and green taxation. Accordingly, although the Law already establishes a set of specific targets, it will still be necessary to implement it in a set of other laws. This new Law also reinforces and brings together other legal instruments in force on climate change. These include the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (ENAAC) 20201 , the Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality 20502, the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 (PNEC 2030)3/4, and the Action Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change (P-3AC)5. It thus condenses the guidelines for Portuguese climate policy, with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality in the country.
This new Law lays the foundations of climate policy, based on the urgency of combating climate change and it recognises the climate emergency situation6.
It comes into force on 1 February 2022.
1. Objective of the climate policy
The major objective is to achieve ecological balance and neutrality in greenhouse gases by 20507. In other words, the aim is to achieve a neutral balance between greenhouse gas emissions and the sequestration of these gases by the various sinks. This process will take into account the following targets for the reduction of emissions of these gases by reference to 2005 values and defined by the new law:
- Reduction of at least 55% by 2030;
- Reduction of at least 65% to 75% by 2040;
- Reduction of at least 90% by 2050.
Climate policy objectives are outlined for this purpose. These include (i) fostering the circular economy through the sustainable use of resources (especially energy resources), (ii) developing and strengthening current carbon sinks and other carbon sequestration services, (iii) encouraging the use of renewable energies and their integration into the national electricity system, (iv) boosting sustainable financing, and (v) ensuring that all legislative measures and major public investments are strategically assessed to achieve the essential goal of pursuing sustainable development. All this is to be done in line with the principles now enshrined in the climate policy.
2. Issues regarding specific sectors
‘Sector-by-sector climate policy instruments’ are defined to provide measures and targets for specific sectors. These are some examples:
• Transport - besides the provision to develop measures to promote sustainable mobility, 2035 is set as the reference date for the end of sales in Portugal of new light vehicles powered exclusively by fossil fuels;
• Materials and consumption policy - the design of products, packaging, infrastructures and buildings must follow a logic of eco-design.
• Waste - the State is obliged to adopt a bio-waste collection and recovery model and, by 2025, incentive and returnable packaging waste systems to effectively recover plastic packaging from urban waste;
• The agri-food chain - provision is made to encourage the decarbonisation of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and to encourage sustainable and healthy eating habits, with a reduction in food waste;
• For the purpose of carbon sequestration, provision is made to introduce measures targeting forests and oceans to strengthen their capacity as natural carbon sinks. Provision is made to support the sustainability and resilience of forests. This is to be achieved by maintaining and incorporating residual forest biomass into the soil and promoting more sustainable and resilient forest crops, such as native species, white oaks and hard woods.
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1 Approved by Council of Ministers Resolution 56/2015 of 30 July, and its validity was extended until 31 December 2025 by Council of Ministers Resolution 53/2020 of 10 July.
2 Approved by Council of Ministers Resolution 107/2019 of 1 July.
3 Approved by Council of Ministers Resolution 53/2020 of 10 July.
4 PLMJ Informative Note of 16 July 2021.
5 Approved by Council of Ministers Resolution 130/2019 of 2 August.
6 The Law states that this recognition of the climate emergency situation does not constitute a declaration of a state of emergency under Article 19 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.
7 A target that had already been defined in the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050, approved by Council of Ministers Resolution 107/2019 of July 1.