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Portugal's scientists speak out against oil and gas exploration

oilgungeA group made up of 70 of Portugal’s top scientists have demanded the end of government approved oil and gas exploration and drilling, currently licensed in blocs from the Algarve to Oporto.

"We have seen that it is necessary to cease all existing contracts and refuse new licences in order to avoid irreparable damage to the economy, the environment and to communities," the scientists say in an open letter.

Scientists from various fields working at Portuguese institutions also state that scientific communities are moving internationally in preparation for public demonstrations in several countries, including Portugal, against the exploitation of fossil fuels and the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Recalling the climate change debates at the climate summits and stressing the insufficiency of measures taken so far and the failure to meet agreed targets, the scientists say that there is now agreement by most of the scientific community on "the urgency of ending the emission of greenhouse gases ".

"Existing knowledge allows us to abandon fossil fuels in favor of clean energy, innovations in this area are constant. Human-induced climate change is a problem for society that science can and has been responding to," read the letter.

The document also highlights the reconfiguration of the relationship between global and national powers following the election of Donald Trump, the alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the rise of the far right in Europe, "which aggravates the situation in a disturbing way."

"For the people, threats to peace, to remain in their land, to health, to food and to education are increasing every day. In addition, the lack of scientific investment in many countries threatens the work of scientists.”

In Portugal, they say, the exploitation of fossil fuels is "one of the great problems" that must be faced, because persisting in a "carbon-greedy economy" makes political commitments impossible, defrauds the population of their expectations, and destroys land, seas and rivers, the atmosphere and irreplaceable chains of life.

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The notable scientists brave enough to put their names to the open letter are Alda Sousa, Ana Delicado, Ana Teresa Luís, Anabela Ferro, André Pedro do Couto, André Silveira, António Bracinha Vieira, António Pedro Dores, Armando Alves, Britta Baumgarten, Claudio E. Sunkel, Eduardo Ferreira, Elísio Estanque, Eugénia Pires, Filipe Duarte Santos, Francisco Louçã, Gil Fesch, Gil Penha-Lopes, Helena Freitas, Henrique de Barros, Inês Farias, João Arriscado Nunes, João Camargo, João Ferrão, João Guerra, João Lavinha, João Teixeira Lopes, João Veloso, Jorge Paiva, Jorge Sequeiros, José Lima Santos, José Manuel Pureza, José Maria Castro Caldas, Júlia Seixas, Lanka Horstink, Luís Ribeiro, Luísa Schmidt, Manuel Carvalho da Silva, Manuel Sarmento, Margarida Cancela de Abreu, Margarida Silva, Miguel Centeno Brito, Miguel Heleno, Nuno Almeida Alves, Nuno Santos Carneiro, Otávio Raposo, Patrícia Maciel, Patrícia Vieira, Paula Guerra, Paula Sequeiros, Paula Silva, Paulo Raposo, Paulo Talhadas Santos, Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos, Pedro Matos Soares, Pedro Pereira Leite, Ricardo Paes Mamede, Rita Ferreira, Rui Bebiano, Rui Gil da Costa, Rui Vitorino, Sandro Mendonça, Sinan Eden, Stefania Barca, Tatiana Moutinho, Teresa Summavielle, Violeta Ferreira and Viriato Soromenho-Marques.