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Critical anti-oil demonstration in Lisbon this Thursday - will government continue to ignore public opinion?

OilReferendumSMALLThursday this week is the big day for Portugal’s anti-oil protest groups as they are due to gather in front of parliament to ask – why?

Councils in the Algarve and up the west coast have said ‘no’ to oil exploration and drilling and want to know what the government is going to do to stop it.

The latest threat is that the Galp-ENI consortium is going to start drilling off Aljezur, so the myriad of associations and movements against hydrocarbons in Portugal all want to know what the Government will do, as Santiago do Cacém, Sines, Odemira, Aljezur, Vila do Bispo and Lagos councils have submitted negative assessments of the affects of an oil business on their doorsteps.

The protestors will be gathering on Thursday from 10:00 as parliament is due to debate a petition against the licence recently given to the Galp-ENI consortium allowing the consortium to drill its test well off Aljezur.

The petition has the support of many independent MPs, the Left Bloc and PAN, and demands the annulment of all exploration and exploitation contracts for oil and gas in force in Portugal and reaffirms the urgency to invest immediately in decentralised renewable energy projects.

The activists pose the following tricky one for 'man of the people' António Costa who as PM has prided himself in being in tune with public opinion,

"In the face of opposition from municipalities and local populations, and in the face of all the international appeals, the movements and associations against the exploitation of hydrocarbons in Portugal, we ask the Government: what now? What are you going to do with the negative opinions of the Councils? What about Portuguese public opinion and what about the advice of scientists from around the world? And what about the Paris CO2 commitments you signed?"

The downside of having an oil and gas industry off Portugal’s coastline include the environmental risk, the potential increase in seismic risk, the “overwhelming negative impacts on fisheries and tourism and the urgent and global need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the exploitation and use of hydrocarbons - namely oil and gas.”

The movements, led in the south by ASMAA, recall the joint position of 80 economists from 20 countries, made public on 7 December, calling for "an end to investment in fossil fuel production and its infrastructure,” while advocating a massive increase in investment in renewable energy.

The activists have called on the public to join them at the demonstration on Thursday, December 21st, in front of the parliament building in Lisbon from 10:00am.