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World Environment Day marked on Friday with fears of setbacks

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World Environment Day marked on Friday with fears of setbacks

Environmental protection organizations fear that the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the consequent economic recovery, will jeopardize goals on climate, biodiversity and climate change.

Regarding World Environment Day, which is celebrated on Friday, Lusa asked several environmental protection associations if the economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic crisis could jeopardize the goals on environment and climate change. They all admitted it.

In addition to the “dramatic” consequences for people and the economy, the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) reminds us that this week the Ocean Conference should be taking place in Lisbon, in which goals to protect marine ecosystems would be debated and agreed upon.

The conference was postponed due to Covid-19, but you cannot “postpone the protection of biodiversity and the health of the oceans”, says SPEA to Lusa, adding that the crisis has also affected producers of diversified and small-scale agriculture, or the agroforestry sector.

If the European Commission has ambitious goals on sustainable consumption or defense of biodiversity, the Portuguese Government has not taken the best decisions, according to SPEA, which talks about a new airport in Montijo, the authorization to cut forests during the spring, or the easing the environmental commitments of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Also ANP / WWF, Associação Natureza Portugal, which works in partnership with the international World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), through the voice of Catarina Grilo, director of Conservation and Policies, leaves some criticisms and fears. One of them that does not take the time to reorient the economy towards a fair and sustainable recovery.

In waste and recycling, says Catarina Grilo, Covid-19 brought “a step back in selective collection and waste treatment”, along with the growth in the use of disposables. And "there are no health reasons for this setback," he said.

In the fight against climate change, the national targets are also "below what is required in the Paris Agreement".

Catarina Grilo explains that Portugal proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 45% and 55% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. But the Paris Agreement requires that the comparison be at 1990 levels.

“Portugal uses 2005 as the reference year because it corresponds to the highest peak in emissions. The 45-55% compared to 2005 corresponds to a reduction of only 20-35% compared to 1990 ”, says Catarina Grilo, concluding that“ the economic recovery may ‘only’ worsen the poor climate performance ”of Portugal.

Ana Paz, of the national leadership of the League for the Protection of Nature (LPN), is more optimistic. He talks about the climate benefits of the confinement and economic downturns, adding that it was now interesting "to learn lessons about these effects, instead of just trying to reverse the reduction in emissions as soon as possible".

Admitting that there have been environmental reversals in recent months, such as changes in the selective collection of waste and an increase in disposables, the official says she believes that everything will recover, and adds that at the European Union level there are good signs in terms of the environment. But he warns that attention needs to be paid to gaps between declarations of intent and practice.

Paula Nunes da Silva, acting president of Quercus, also talks about increasing waste and slowing down recycling, and is perpetual in the statement that there is a risk that “environmental goals will be put in the background, in the name of economic recovery”. But he hopes that this recovery will serve “to leverage, once and for all, the green and circular economy”.

The Zero association says, on the same matter, that there are “enormous social, economic and environmental benefits” if the goals set before the pandemic are respected.

And he gives an example, the result of a “brief consultation” with companies in the recycling sector. "We were able to realize that meeting European recycling targets in some areas would be enough to create, in a conservative view, at least 5,000 new jobs".

In the statements of almost all associations heard by Lusa, there is also the idea that epidemics such as Covid-19 are combating, and avoiding, with a nature rich in biodiversity and functional ecosystems. Because the new coronavirus developed due to the increasing human pressure on natural habitats, as they have called attention.

Last April, Zero had already presented a long document, entitled “Our new Common Future”, on the main challenges and opportunities in the face of the pandemic and suggestions for a sustainable recovery.

At the same time, the document “Proposals for a Fair and Sustainable Economic Recovery in Portugal” was also launched, with suggestions for projects and sectors of activity to which public investment should be channeled, for a fair and sustainable recovery. The document came from C6, a coalition of organizations linked to the environment (ANP / WWF, FAPAS, GEOTA, LPN, Quercus and SPEA).

World Environment Day was created by the UN and has been celebrated since 1974, to raise awareness and make the world population aware of the importance and preservation of the environment. This year international celebrations take place in Colombia.

To mark the date, the Red List of Invertebrates Project launches on that day the “Red List Invertebrates Wanted” campaign, in which it appeals to citizens to help them better understand the distribution of 16 emblematic species of invertebrates, contributing to the process assessment of the risk of extinction of these species. The list includes insects, spiders, slugs, river mussels, crustaceans and leeches.

Also regarding the event, Electrão – Waste Management Association, recalls that recycling is essential in preserving the environment.

And he says that despite the encouraging results of the last few years, there is still “a great deal of awareness and accountability” in the selective collection of waste, at the same time that he emphasizes that the collection of packaging has increased this year, compared to the same period last year, by 14%.

Globally, according to a report by the AFP news agency, the Covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 380,000 deaths and infected almost 6.4 million people in 196 countries and territories. More than 2.7 million patients were considered cured.

In Portugal, 1,447 people out of 33,261 confirmed as infected died, and there are 20,079 recovered cases, according to the Directorate-General for Health.

The disease is transmitted by a new coronavirus detected in late December in Wuhan, a city in central China.

After Europe succeeded China as the center of the pandemic in February, the American continent became the one with the most confirmed cases (about three million, against almost 2.2 million on the European continent), although with fewer deaths (more 168,500, against more than 180 thousand).

To combat the pandemic, governments sent 4.5 billion people home (more than half of the planet's population), paralyzing entire sectors of the world economy, in a “great confinement” that several countries have already begun to alleviate in the face of declining prices. new contagions.

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