In a Nutshell
- Portugal mostly focuses on increasing the natural carbon sink capacity of the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector.
- Under its national climate law, a maximum of 10% of emissions may be removed to achieve climate neutrality in the sectors covered.
- Portugal is currently investigating the possibility of creating a national carbon market which would be based on the Carbon Removal Certification Framework.
- Separate from the national carbon market, Portugal will release a new green industrial strategy in 2024.
Role for carbon removal in national climate policy
The Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality 2050, Portugal’s national long-term strategy released in 2019, discusses the role of carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR). It labels CCS as an important option to decarbonise the energy system, though it considers economic and technical viability only to be attainable in the cement sector. According to the roadmap, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is currently not cost-effective, though technological development will be monitored.
The draft updated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) submitted in June 2023 brings additional elements regarding CDR. The main focus is on increasing the natural carbon sink capacity of the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector. Although contributions of CCUS are considered as part of the decarbonisation of the industrial and business sector, the plan mistakably conflates CCUS and CDR. It also acknowledges the upcoming Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) as part of the development of a national voluntary carbon market. This market will follow the rules established by the CRCF.
Relevant legal frameworks
The Portuguese Climate Framework Act entered into force on 1 February 2022 and sets an objective to reach climate neutrality by 2050. It establishes emissions reduction targets of at least 55% by 2030, 65% to 75% by 2040, and 90% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels, excluding soils and forests. The law stipulates that a maximum of 10% of emissions may be removed to achieve climate neutrality in the sectors covered. Additionally, a net removal target of on average 13 MtCO2eq is set for the LULUCF sector between 2045 and 2050. The law states that coastal and marine ecosystems should also play a role in reaching this target, setting multiple policy objectives, including the development and reinforcement of ‘current carbon sinks and other carbon sequestration services’.
Support for R&D and Innovation
The Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan only has limited links to CDR. Of note is the creation of a ‘Hub Azul’, a blue hub, aimed at creating a thriving blue economy. The hub will support startups, research and development, and marine infrastructure. Marine-based CDR could fall under this funding. The rest of the plan does not mention CDR-related measures, nor does it mention CCS.
The Intermunicipal Waste Management of Greater Porto (LIPOR) is part of a research consortium piloting an industrial-scale CCU facility at a waste-to-energy plant. Part of the process could create negative emissions.
The voluntary carbon market currently in the making aims to include emissions reduction projects and carbon sequestration projects. It would establish rules for its functioning as well as requirements and procedures on how the carbon credits can be used. At the moment, nature-based solutions seem to be favoured, even though engineered removals are mentioned.
The University of Evora and the University of Lisbon take part in the PilotStrategy project, an EU-funded project exploring geological CO2 storage capacities in industrial regions of southern and eastern Europe. PilotStrategy follows after the Strategy CCUS project, which ran between 2019 and 2022. Evora also received funding to conduct the InCarbon project to evaluate the potential of some geological formations to store CO2 captured from large industrial and energy generation sources.
On the horizon
The draft updated version of the NECP mentions the development of a green industrial strategy, due in 2024. Moreover, the creation of the national voluntary carbon market is expected to continue over the next years.
- Net zero target: 2050
- Net Negative Target:
- First interim target: 2030
- Type of interim target: Emissions reduction target
- GHGs covered: Not Specified
- Separate target for emission reduction and removals: No
- Comprehensive CDR Target: no
- CDR Target for Conventional Removals: yes
- CDR Target for Novel Removals: no
- Historical emissions:
- Annual reporting mechanism: Annual reporting
- Plans for carbon removal (CDR): Yes (nature-based removals e.g. Forestation, soil carbon enhancement)
- Planning to use external carbon credits: No
- Conditions on use of carbon credits:
- The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Action – drafts, implements and assesses national environmental and climate policies.
- The Portuguese Environment Agency – responsible for proposing, developing and monitoring environmental and sustainable development policies. It is part of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Action.
- The Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests – responsible for proposing, developing and ensuring the execution of nature conservation and forests policies. It is under the control of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Action and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
- Ministry of Agriculture and Food – drafts, implements and assesses national policies related to food production and agriculture.
Evora University – conducts most of the research on CO2 storage in Portugal.