A review of all the available Portuguese Covenant signatories' Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAP) was made by researchers at NOVA University Lisbon, in order to analyse the effectiveness and level of ambition of these Portuguese cities’ voluntary CO2 emission reduction commitments. The researchers reviewed 108 Portuguese SEAPs implemented until June 2017 to assess their relevance for national mitigation and renewable energy sources objectives. The analysis focused on Portuguese SEAPs' territorial and population coverage, mitigation and renewable energy targets and the necessary investment.
The reviewed SEAPs cover 58% of the Portuguese population, including two of the largest cities in the country, but only correspond to 32% of the country’s territory. The defined 2020 SEAP mitigation targets foresee a reduction of CO2 emissions between 20% and 58% for each municipality compared to the value of the respective reference years. In total terms, the Portuguese Covenant cities’ 2020 GHG emission mitigation ambitions are of circa 6.0 MtCO2, which corresponds to a 21% share of the total national GHG emission reduction target for 2020 according to the National Program for Climate Change 2020/2030 (PNAC).
The most representative economic sectors in terms of mitigation effort are transport (40% of the total SEAP mitigation effort in 2020), residential buildings (28%) and service sectors (11%). The investment needs reported by the Portuguese Covenant cities for the implementation of the various mitigation measures by 2020 are EUR 7 billion, of which circa two-thirds will be dependent on funding external to the city councils.
The mitigation measures in the SEAP were found to be rather similar across the analysed Portuguese cities. Some measures were considered by the researchers to be rather vague, and as most of the necessary investment is to come from outside municipal budgets, the effectiveness of the plans may be hampered, resulting in a more modest CO2 reduction than ambitioned. The researchers conclude that more capacity building of local technicians developing SEAPs is necessary, as well as increased coordination with national mitigation efforts in order to increase effectiveness of Portuguese Covenant cities' SEAPs.
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