A zero-emissions transport sector in Portugal – Sinan Eden


§0. Starting points:

The transport sector is responsible for 25.6% of annual greenhouse gas emissions of Portugal.

There are five million cars in the country. A new electric car today costs between 30 and 70 thousand Euros. Substituting all existing cars with electric cars would cost 150 billion Euros. That’s 70% of all the Portuguese economy.1 (Then there are tens of thousands of trucks, for which there is no electric alternative.) There is no realistic decarbonization strategy that doesn’t aim at doing things differently.2

Rather than worrying about the well-being of cars and the automobile industry, people and the climate will be at the center of this work, in which we will give a provisional estimate for decarbonizing the transport sector by 2030.3

Throughout the text, decarbonization will mean actually eliminating carbon emissions, and not some “net zero” or “climate neutral” scheme based on carbon offsetting projects. There are sectors where reaching zero emissions will be extremely hard (such as agriculture and waste) and for these sectors a certain increase of carbon sinks through afforestation can be considered as a solution. For the transport sector, we start with the administrative know-how, technologies that are already commercially viable, as well as with public support for decarbonization. Therefore, we will aim at absolute zero emissions.

Furthermore, we will opt for existing, tested technologies over new technologies. Research and development are essential for a rapid and just transition. However, all innovations come with their own set of social and technological drawbacks, which gain visibility only after their implementation. Therefore, we will refer to new technologies only in the nonexistence of viable alternatives.

§1. Emissions of the transport sector:

The transport sector is responsible for more than a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions, and virtually all of the transport emissions are carbon dioxide. Hence, although we use carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq) as the unit of emissions when comparing with other sectors, for the transport sector this technicality will be less present.

The transport emissions by sub-sector according to the National Inventory Report 2020 are as below. The announced transport emissions are 17.2 Mt CO2eq, which makes up 25.6% of the total 67.4 Mt CO2eq. 4

 

Mt CO2eq

Domestic Aviation

0.5

International Aviation

4.2

Road Transportation

16.4

Railways

0.3

Domestic Water-borne Navigation

0.3

International Water-borne Navigation

2.7

National Total

17.2

Grand Total

24.1

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) directives exclude international aviation and international navigation in national totals. One reason for this is that there is no internationally agreed procedure to distribute emissions among countries. The second reason (which also explains the first) is lobbying from the civil aviation industry, who managed to get itself off the hook of carbon budgets and internationally set climate goals. However, countries still document the related emissions. For each international trip, half of the emissions is accounted for the emissions in the country of origin, and the other half in the destination country. If we would include international aviation and international water-borne navigation, the total transport emissions would be 24.1 Mt CO2eq, the total national emissions would also increase to 74.2 Mt CO2eq, and therefore transport would account for 32.5% of total emissions.

We will address the entire 24.1 Mt CO2eq, while acknowledging that climate policies at national levels or even at the European level are not as effective in cutting emissions of international aviation and international navigation as global agreements would be.

§2. The approach: The overwhelming majority of the transport emissions come from road transportation (mainly cars and trucks). Trying to decarbonize them by massive electrification means transferring the emissions to the energy industries: an electric car’s emissions are comparable to those of a diesel car in most countries due to the energy mix (see image below), and even when electricity sector is based on low carbon sources of energy, electrification increases energy demand. Moreover, the public sector currently has much less control over energy production than the transport sector, due to neoliberal policies of the European Union in the last decades.

Therefore, we will aim at addressing the decarbonization challenge mostly within the sector. We will cut energy demand through massive public and collective transport, replace most of road transport by rail transport, and electrify only the remaining energy demand of the sector.

§3. Transforming alienated energy demand into jobs:5 You wake up early in the morning, have a quick breakfast, leave your house, get into your car, pass through the rush-hour traffic for half an hour to an hour, work, then travel back for another half an hour to an hour. You spend one to two hours driving every day. If you are a morning person, you waste your valuable morning energy focused on traffic stress, and then get annoyed in traffic in the evening when you are not in a good mood. If you are an evening person, you annoy morning people with your distracted driving in the morning, and then waste your evening potential driving at 20-30 km/h (unless there was an accident, in which case your average speed is even less). Around 30% of all car travels in Lisbon and Porto are done to and from workplace. If we would instead have a metro line, a tram or an electric bus, we would transform the driving work into a driver’s job. We could be reading a book, listening to a podcast, talking to a friend, or simply organizing our minds for the working day, while the driver would get a salary and pension contributions for the exhausting work we were doing for free. In fact, through massive public transport we can reduce traffic drastically so that everyone (and especially people in emergency, such as ambulances) reach their destinations faster. This is only possible if there is an extensive and integrated public transport network with clean, fare-free or virtually fare-free travel options.

Another 20% of all car travels in Lisbon and Porto are for shopping. As we all discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of that shopping can happen online or locally, both of which options transform our alienated energy demand into jobs for people.

§4. Railways: The first structural step in decarbonizing the transport sector is to set up a skeleton made of an extensive and electrified railway network.

§4.1. The aim of this network is to

  • substitute all long-distance transportation of passengers within the country and progressively within the Iberian Peninsula, thereby reducing road transport as well as civil aviation, and

  • substitute all long-distance transportation of goods, leaving only the first-mile and last-mile transportation to relatively smaller (and thus electrified) trucks.

§4.2. More concretely, we would need to

  • electrify and modernize all existing railways,

  • build high-speed railways connecting in North-South (Valença to Faro) and West-East (Lisbon to Madrid) directions,

  • reactivate and electrify abandoned lines and build new ones (see the railway map from 1985 on the side, and the passenger railway comparison between 1974 and 2015 below – although most of these lines would need to be rebuilt today as they were entirely dismantled),6

  • reorganize ports and industrial zones to allow logistics hubs by train,

  • build new train stations, and

  • produce locomotives, wagons (for passengers as well as for goods) and railways.

§4.3. Railway jobs: In 1970s there were 25.000 workers in the Portuguese railways. This number went down to 20.000 in the 1980s, when liberalization of the Portuguese economy resulted in divestment in the railways in favor of highways. At the moment, there are 6.000 workers in the sector.7 Hence, we would need to triple to quadruple this number, adding approximately 15.000 workers.

There is also railroad construction. As a point of reference, in 2020, the California High-Speed Rail Authority employed more than 4.000 workers for the 200 km high-speed railroad construction set to finish by 2025. In other words, around 4.000 people will work 5 years to build 200 km of high-speed railroad.8 This gives a coefficient of 4.000*5/200 = 100 job years / km for construction.

In Portugal, we would probably need to build 2.000 to 3.000 km of new railroads. This means we would need 200.000-300.000 job years. Given that we need to build all of this in 10 years, we would need to hire 20.000-30.000 railroad construction workers.

§4.4. Several words of caution on these estimates:

  • We can safely assume that modernization, automation and digital technologies have reduced the jobs needed to maintain an existing line.

  • Only 1.000 km of the railroad in Portugal would be for high-speed trains. Many of the railroads, or at least the paths to install the rails already exist.

  • All these are direct jobs. We do not take into consideration indirect or induced jobs created due to investment or infrastructure.

  • This would further imply a transition in heavy industry. Namely, a strong iron industry would be necessary to manufacture the railroads. However, this sector is easy to decarbonize through electrification and also has a high degree of automation. In any case, we do not take into consideration the industry jobs in this article.9

  • Lastly, transferring all commodity transportation to railways has a direct job implication for truck drivers. We address this in the next section.

§5. Lorries / Trucks: The investment in highways and national roads, as part of privatization of the transport sector in the last decades, created an atomized commodity transportation sector based on precarious jobs. Currently, there are approximately 50.000 truck drivers in Portugal. Only a minority of them could be hired as train conductors (simply because much less workers would be necessary to carry the same amount of goods). A mixture of measures will be necessary to establish a just transition for truck drivers.

Before we start a list of just transition measures, we would like to remind that Tesla believes in electric trucks, and already produced prototypes. These are not generalized or commercially viable at the moment, and this would be enough reason for us to ignore it in our current calculations. Yet, there is another factor: Tesla aims at self-driving trucks, so the job loss issue would remain even if electric trucks existed.

§5.1. First of all, the so-called “first-mile” and “last-mile” deliveries, between the train terminal and the industrial facility (be it a factory or a hypermarket), will be done via road transportation. These imply smaller trucks, for which electric options are commercially available. This would cover most of the substitute jobs we need.

§5.2. Secondly, we should transform some of passenger transportation into commodities transportation. As explained in §3, a fifth of all car travels in the big cities are for shopping purposes. This percentage is probably much higher in smaller cities where most of basic products are concentrated in hypermarkets far from residential areas. These shops, particularly when they sell food products, are massive refrigerator-buildings. Instead of refrigerating a depot, the hypermarkets currently refrigerate the entire building with the workers and consumers in it. This can be avoided by online shopping and home deliveries. This option is even more viable for non-food goods such as furniture, home appliances, most of textile products, and office supplies.

At the moment, this work is done by the consumers at the cost of fuel, parking costs and stress, time spent in travel, as well as stress in traffic. And we call it passenger transport. Recognizing the need for local (walking-distance) shops for fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, etc., we can replace most shopping in distant supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping malls with online deliveries. Then we would call it delivery jobs, and someone would get paid for it.

§5.3. Finally, the passenger transport by railways will still need to be complemented with electric buses for the first and last mile of each trip. This would be the third option for a job guarantee for truck drivers. This will be the topic of the next paragraph.

§6. Public buses: The national railway network will need to be supplemented by a complex public facility that combines public electric buses, shared mobility and lighter means of transportation.10 Currently, in rural areas, cars are not only a necessity but also an obligation for all kinds of trips. As online deliveries reduce the need for passenger transport, publicly owned minibus companies and shared mobility options can reduce the need for individual cars for less used roads.

At the moment, almost all intercity bus lines are privatized. A social consequence of this is that non-profitable connections were abandoned, creating an incentive for car use.11 A technical consequence is that no reliable data is available for jobs, yearly passenger kilometers, and emissions per pairs of origin and destination. Furthermore, many of these public bus lines should be organized and managed at the inter-municipal rather than national level, so that a better match between needs and services could be achieved, while also creating accountability for the management.

Therefore, although we estimate tens of thousands of jobs in public buses, we prefer to consider these as substitute jobs for truck drivers and therefore do not add into our net jobs creation calculations.

§7. Urban mobility: The mobility model for cities should be an adaptation of the national model, with its main body in light railways supplemented by public, collective, electric road transport. An extensive, inter-municipal, integrated metro and tram network is our starting point, to which electric buses and publicly owned shared mobility options should be added, and complemented with lighter options like bicycle and walking.

As the general image is similar to the national structure, we will emphasize the differences rather than similarities.

§7.1. Metros and tramlines: The first step is a major expansion of suburban train and metro networks, complemented with trams.12

The jobs associated to the construction of metro lines are highly variable as the projects differ due to geographical, geological, historical, social, political, environmental and financial variables.

The 3-km-long East Side Access of the New York City metro line passes under water and high-density urban zones, is expected to last 15 years, and employed up to 900 workers. This gives a jaw-dropping 4.500 job years per km. However, this project was highly controversial due to delays and other corruption scandals: some experts suggest that construction of similar projects would require a quarter of the employees elsewhere, and the authorities identified that the delays doubled the expected time of construction.

In comparison, the Dubai Metro, with 75 km and 47 stations, was built in 8 years and employed 30.000 workers. This therefore gives us 3.200 job years per km. This project started from scratch, establishing everything from administrative to financial under a kind of policy fast-track by the Emirates’ government, and is an example of rapid construction with exceptional financial mobilization.

A regular construction project, under a well-established company extending existing lines, should imply less work. Moreover, tramlines also require less construction time. Therefore we should consider less job years.

Currently, the metro lines have a length of 123 km (Lisbon 44.5 km, Porto 66.7 km, South of Tagus 11.8 km),13 to which should be added another 31 km tramlines in Lisbon, operated by Carris, and another 8.9 km in Porto, operated by STCP. While there have been some proposals to add up to 28 km to Lisbon’s metroline, there are yet other on-ground light train projects connecting various councils, like the Oeiras – Lisbon – Loures project, comprising 24.4 km. We further acknowledge the necessity for light train options in medium-sized cities.

In order to build another 100 km of light railways, we would need 15.000 to 20.000 workers over 10 years.

This would double the network. Doubling the workers would add another 2.000 workers as drivers, mechanics, technicians and other functions.

None of the above would solve the quality and frequency issues of the metro, which in turn reduce its reliability. It is clear that more jobs would be necessary to create a service of preference.

§7.2. Electric buses: Buses are convenient for shorter distances which imply more frequent stops.

A significant increase in bus services is an absolute necessity. But there are two issues we need to address before that.

First of all, public private partnerships are haunting the sector. Their first and immediate impact is the transfer of public funds to private companies. Private companies also condition their offer to profitability rather than actual necessities, and the services disappear when we need them most. Furthermore, delivering the lines to private contractors reduce the possibilities of an integrated network, as it causes competition and data ownership issues.

The second issue is that the existing workforce is not sufficient for the existing bus lines. In Lisbon, Carris has 2.300 workers, but had 2.800 before austerity measures. In Porto, STCP has 1300 workers, but trade unions insist that another 150 are needed. Therefore, if we want buses as a real option for urban mobility, we need to guarantee quality services for the existing lines.

For all bus lines in all cities, we estimate 10.000 new direct jobs, in electric buses, for urban public transport.

Finally, we have to electrify all the buses, which are thousands of buses. But these are jobs in the car industry and not in transport. We thus exclude them from our calculations. We will still address them in §8, when we talk about electric cars.

§7.3. Shared mobility: In many cases, a bus is not adequate to complement the first-mile and last-mile of urban mobility. This is because the real necessity does not justify a bus or a minibus allocated to the neighborhood. In these cases, shared mobility systems can be a real alternative.

We insist on using the term “shared mobility” (or ride-sharing, or trip-sharing), which refers to rides or trips that are actually shared between different individuals or different parties, and paid separately. In contrast, “ride-hailing” refers to any app-based system to secure a ride from a taxi or other “on-demand” ride service, from a “transport network company” (TNC). These rides may or may not be shared. Ride-hailing services are not shared mobility unless they exclusively offer shared rides (such as a micro transit bus system).14

Ride-hailing systems have monopolized short distance travels and trips that take place at hours where demand for transportation is low. These systems further took over the workforce under extremely precarious conditions.15

These app-based platforms brought up two important pieces necessary to create a supplementary publicly-owned shared mobility system in the cities. The first is meta-data on the need. While on-demand ride services distort the real necessities to a certain extent, the information on the number of travels between two points that took place at certain times of a certain day is essential in establishing efficient shared mobility options. The second is the algorithm of the app itself, whereby not only the transportation authority but also the users can feed in constraints and necessities. Clearly, the apps’ algorithms are based on commercial purposes and should therefore be rewritten to guarantee anonymity for users, and create accountability via open source programming.

Both of these pieces are privately owned at the moment. Public ownership of this information can unlock a truly integrated mobility system, transforming ride-hailing systems into ride-sharing systems, which complement the existing railway and bus lines, produce decent and local jobs, and reduce alienated energy demand in transportation.

§7.4. Walking and bicycles: Finally, reducing the need for car ownership and car use through public transport, accompanied by measures on city planning, can increase the possibilities for zero-energy modes of transportation.16 This is possible when cities are not designed for cars but for people, which in turn is possible if cars are not an essential necessity for mobility. This can be done with jobs on urban planning, which does not belong to the transport sector, and under municipal governments, which are beyond the scope of this work. We will therefore exclude these job numbers from our calculations.

§8. What about cars? To some extent, cars may still be necessary. However, we must drastically reduce the need for cars,17 and all the remaining cars must be electric.

The above described process will have two impacts on jobs.

§8.1. Provision of electricity: In a decarbonized transport sector, gas stations would be substituted by electricity charging stations. In the cities, this is an enormous opportunity for transforming private sector jobs into decent, secure, municipal jobs, as charging stations would be linked to bus terminals and car parking areas. This process further allows for decentralization of electricity production: rather than carrying imported and refined oil into the cities, electricity can be produced at the location. These are all indirect jobs and therefore we will not include them in our calculations. However, we underline that gas station workers must have priority in the recruitment for charging station jobs.

§8.2. Car manufacture: There are 5.5 million cars in Portugal, of which 460.000 are less than 2 years old, 690.000 are between 2 and 4 years old, 930.000 are between 4 and 10 years old, and 3.4 million are older. That’s 200-300 thousand new cars bought every year. As we mentioned in paragraph §0, trying to substitute all of these would be disastrous socially, economically and environmentally.

The car industry employs between 50.000 and 80.000 people. Most of these workers would remain at their posts, producing electric buses, small electric delivery trucks, electric cars as well as light trains. Yet, many more will be needed for the following gigantic task.

The sector is suffering job losses due to automation worldwide, but this happens because car factories are focused solely on receiving raw materials, producing car pieces and assembling the cars. We will now need workers to do the opposite: retrieving cars from the market, disassembling them, identifying maximum benefit for reusable pieces, and recycling the remaining pieces. This task requires piece-by-piece evaluation by experienced technicians and is non-automated at the moment. Closing the life cycle of the cars rather than the current waste-producing system will imply tens of thousands of jobs. To this end, the government must regulate production and hold producers accountable for the entire life cycle of the cars, accompany the factories transforming their activities accordingly, and guarantee the income and rights of the workers. In fact, a nationally planned just transition in the sector would have a net positive impact on jobs. As the car industry is not categorized as part of the transport sector, we exclude the job numbers from our calculations.

§9. Aviation: Aviation is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize.

To be sure, aviation must be reduced to extreme necessities, such as urgent humanitarian relief after natural disasters. At given and prospective technologies, the only reliable decarbonization option is to reduce demand.18

Aviation benefits direct and indirect subsidies all over the world, and is the only means of transportation that is free of a fuel tax. This has created, at least among the middle classes in countries of the Global North, the possibility of cheap flights. However, only a minority has access to flights and an overwhelming majority of the flights are taken by a thin stratum of “frequent flyers”.

On one hand, it is relatively easy to eliminate all domestic aviation in Portugal, as well as flights within the Iberian Peninsula. High-speed trains explained in §4.2., together with international railways with Spain, can substitute all air travel within the peninsula. This leaves us the air traffic between the continent and the islands of Azores and Madeira. For short distances, electric planes exist, are but not yet commercially viable. Nevertheless, Norway plans to introduce electric airplanes for all domestic flights by 2030, and commits to all-electric domestic flights by 2040.19 This may give us some hope of decarbonizing that last bit too, but probably not in the immediate future.

On the other hand, international flights have reduced drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, flight frequency had fallen almost 70% globally, with a drop of 80-90% in countries like Italy, Spain, Germany and Sweden. The numbers recovered during Summer but, as of October 2020, they were still half of pre-pandemic levels globally, and 70% less than pre-pandemic levels in European countries. This has several meanings. Many job-related trips shifted to online platforms; many people opted for holiday options within their country; many immigrants did not get to see their loved ones; some conferences were cancelled or postponed; some people continued traveling (some 10% of the flights continued even at the worst stages of the pandemic, albeit not full); and aviation workers lost their jobs.

It is hard to guess what percentage of international flights could be considered “essential” as this is a highly subjective term. Even so, our only hope for a decarbonized transport sector is to increase high-speed train options, cancel all flights for connections where there exists a railway option, increase spare time by reducing the working week as well as increasing yearly holiday periods, and thereby reduce air travel drastically.

There are 8.000 navigation personnel and 6.000 ground personnel in the aviation sector, currently decreasing due to so-called restructuring efforts in TAP. Only a minority of these jobs would be necessary in a zero-emissions transport sector. The remaining workers should be directed to the railway sector. Currently the Portuguese government has all the necessary administrative and economic tools to realize a just transition in the sector, the only missing element being a political vision based on the people and the planet.

We can fairly estimate zero domestic aviation emissions and half the current international aviation emissions for 2030, under an ambitious climate jobs program accompanied by international efforts.

§10. Water-borne navigation: Shipping is the most difficult area to decarbonize within the transport sector. Electric ferries exist but are useful only for short distances and rivers. For long-haul shipping, there are promising hydrogen-based technologies using ammonia and methanol as fuels, however these are not commercially viable at the moment. Reducing speed can cut energy use by twenty to thirty percent. Reducing touristic cruises would have benefits beyond emission cuts, on housing and other urban issues. Localizing production would diminish commodity trade, transferring jobs in the ports into the productive sectors.

None of the above produce net jobs, and none can be achieved without international agreements. We estimate water-borne navigation emissions to be halved by 2030.

§11. The carbon budget: The plan explained above can decarbonize the transport sector within Portugal, and reduce the overall transport emissions significantly (including international emissions).

More is possible with new technologies, with international cooperation, and other social changes. Namely, more durable products and right-to-repair policies would cut trade emissions; more free time and other incentives for ground travel would reduce flights; a planned housing system (such as public university dormitories, residences next to workplaces) would reduce travel needs, etc.

Our climate jobs plan’s impact on the emissions can be summarized as follows:

Mt CO2eq

today

Mt CO2eq

2030

Domestic Aviation

0.5

0.1

International Aviation

4.2

2.1

Road Transportation

16.4

0.0

Railways

0.3

0.0

Domestic Water-borne Navigation

0.3

0.3

International Water-borne Navigation

2.7

1.1

National Total

17.2

0.5

Grand Total

24.1

3.7

§12. Transport jobs: Excluding jobs created in other industries, excluding jobs created at the municipal or neighborhood levels, excluding all indirect and induced jobs, and under relatively conservative estimates, the net impact of decarbonizing the transport sector rounds to 55.000 jobs.

Below is a summary of the values exposed in the above paragraphs.

 

Jobs created

Job losses

Net impact on jobs

Railways

Construction: 25.000

Services: 15.000

40.000

Road transportation

(truck drivers hired in short-haul delivery and intercity public buses)

Urban public transport

Metro construction: 17.000

Metro services: 2.000

Bus services: 10.000

29.000

Shared mobility

(~25.000 TNC or taxi drivers hired as drivers in municipal share mobility systems)

Aviation

14.000

-14.000

Water-borne navigation
Total

69.000

14.000

55.000

 

Granted, half of these jobs are construction of railways and would therefore not be necessary after 2030. (This still gives us more than 20.000 net jobs.) By 2030, some of these workers can go to technical maintenance, others may find jobs in newly emerging transport technologies. They will all remember their contribution in the just transition, as there would be no jobs in a dead planet.

Finally, we would like to emphasize that all the jobs we refer to are public jobs. In fact, besides the 55.000 jobs, there is an additional 40.000 jobs that are currently precarious in the private sector that would be in the public sector at the end of the transition.

§13. A note on financing the decarbonization: Our plan implies massive infrastructure investments, of which the government’s National Investment Plan for 2030 covers perhaps a tiny fraction. Most of these investments are already profitable as they produce enough revenue from receipts. Others may not be. We would like to point out that the criterion of profitability is the main driver of the steady increase in transport emissions, and is not part of our priorities. For many of the measures mentioned above, we consider fare-free or partially fare-free public transport as a preferable option.

While each of the above projects should have their corresponding detailed budgets, we expect the infrastructure costs to round to 20 billion Euros, which makes 2 billion Euros per year for 10 ten years. There would be further budget requirement for human resources. However, employed people stop receiving unemployment benefits and instead start paying taxes. More services under public ownership generate revenue for the public sector. Last but not least, fuel imports currently amount 7 billion Euros a year, which we would save up by decarbonization efforts.

§14. Other interactions: Decarbonizing the transport sector produces advantages in other sectors of the economy and in areas other than climate change.

§14.1. Energy and electricity: Our plan reduces the overall energy demand of the transport sector drastically. On one hand, this has direct impact on fuel imports. On the other hand, the electricity demand of the sector would be increased. Thus, complete decarbonization of the transport sector depends on a 100% renewable energy sector. This issue will be addressed in a different chapter of the Climate Jobs in Portugal report.

§14.2. Heavy industries: To summarize the impacts on other industries, we remind that our plan implies a reorganization of ports and industrial zones (§4.2), an increase in the iron industry (§4.4), and a restructuring of the car industry (§8.2).

§14.3. Public health benefits of clean mobility are numerous. Around 400 people die in car accidents every year, while more than 40.000 get injured. Air pollution kills 6.000 people per year in Portugal. Long times spent in traffic congestion has a psychological toll, ranging from stress to increased domestic violence. Not to mention noise pollution due to cars and airplanes.

§14.4. F-gases, short for Fluorinated gases,20 have been introduced as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances. F-gases are greenhouse gases resulting from refrigeration and air-conditioning, and amount to 3.4 Mt CO2eq annual emissions in Portugal. This is approximately five percent of total emissions, categorized under industrial processes and products use. Of this 3.4 Mt CO2eq, 34% comes from commercial refrigeration, 28% comes from mobile air conditioning, and 40% from stationary air conditioning.21 Our plan for zero-emissions transport sector directly reduces commercial refrigeration by eliminating the notion of “open-fridge supermarkets” (§5.2) and mobile air conditioning by reducing car use (§2 and §3). The remaining part – stationary air conditioning – will be addressed in the section of the report dedicated to buildings.

§14.5. Lifestyle changes: While for the overwhelming majority the climate jobs plan would be beneficial due to employment, increased mobility and better quality of life, we recognize that our vision puts strong breaks on “on-demand” mobility (such as individual cars and ride-hailing), as well as traveling very long distances very quickly. This has to do with the planetary boundaries we as society should avoid crossing, but it should also be accompanied by other benefits. Shorter working days and/or working weeks can create incentives for travels on ground.22 Regulations that require durable products and a right-to-repair can reduce trade-related emissions.23 Lastly, we believe that getting to know other cultures through first-hand experience not only creates the possibility for a sense of global community but may also catalyze a genuine solidarity culture in the face of climate crisis. This cannot happen over a weekend in a gentrified neighborhood.24 And it surely cannot happen if all cities become touristic amusement parks that are equal to each other everywhere in the world. In summary, we recognize that certain cultural changes will still be necessary in order to achieve a zero-emission transport sector.

§15. What is missing: In this work, we aimed at reaching a general outline of a zero-emissions transport sector in Portugal and achieving round estimates for emissions and job creation. Our vision is informed first and foremost by climate science, but also by a social justice perspective. We see this work as part of an ongoing civil society effort to build a people’s just transition plan. Indeed, we acknowledge that such plans should have been made by public institutions and hired experts – around twenty years ago. On the face of utter failure of political institutions in dealing with the climate crisis, social movements are taking over the moral, social, political, as well as technical leadership. This work is an incremental contribution in comparison to the challenge in front of us. Our only hope is that it be a net-positive contribution.

 


1 Not to mention the extractive impacts of such an attempt for substitution.

2 The government’s Carbon Neutrality Roadmap for 2050 and the National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 have chapters on transport and mobility. Public transport doesn’t show up in either.

3 This work builds on the three articles that informed the first edition of the Climate Jobs in Portugal report.

Efeitos na economia portuguesa e no emprego de políticas de mobilidade sustentável – Fábio Pinheiro, PedroNunes

Transporte Público Rodoviário Urbano: Carris e o seu Potencial Impacto nas Emissões – Filipe Carvalho

Transição Energética no sector dos transportes: eletrificação dos transportes terrestres – Filipe Carvalho

We would like to further acknowledge that most of the insight and the general framework of the article relies on inspiring exchanges with Dr. Francisco Furtado and on the groundbreaking working paper of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy by Sean Sweeney and John Treat.

See The Road Less Travelled: Reclaiming Public Transport for Climate-Ready Mobility, by Sean Sweeney and John Treat, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, Working Paper No. 12.

4 A careful reader would notice that the numbers bold do not add up to the national total. This is either a typo in the National Inventory Report 2020 or the presentation in the Report does not facilitate division by sub-sectors. In either case, as we aim at zero emissions (and not a reduction by some percentage), these minor differences are insignificant.

5 We use “alienated energy demand” as energy demand that does not necessarily correspond to a real energy necessity. The demand thus exists due to irrational social organization, namely when production and distribution are organized in order to maximize profit rather than satisfy human and ecological needs. Energy production for publicity and for yearly-replaced electronic devices are examples of such alienated energy demand.

6 The demand for More Railways of the Climate Jobs campaign give a list of high priority railways. See Mais Ferrovia.

7 We use statistics from the website Por Data for these numbers.

8 The Authority already announced that they crossed the 5.000 benchmark but they probably had less workers in the beginning of the construction. We will therefore stick to the 4.000 figure.

9 Namely, when we say we need electric trains, we imply that someone needs to produce the electricity. This means jobs in the energy sector. At the moment, those are oil jobs; we want them to be renewable energy jobs. But that’s another sector and we prefer to keep the sectors separate to make sure there is no double-counting. Same holds for industry jobs.

10 The demand of the Climate Jobs campaign for a National Electric Road Company explains how this would look like. See Rodoviária Eléctrica Nacional.

11 A similar situation occurs in privatized postal services. The real impacts of privatization are: reduced access and/or more costly access to the services in areas where the service was already less available, increasing the inequality between cities and less populated areas.

12 The demand of the Climate Jobs campaign for Urban Railroad Mobility gives a high-priority list for metro and suburban lines for Lisbon and Porto. See Mobilidade Urbana Ferroviária.

13 Here and below, for official numbers on metro we use the report Ecossistema dos Metropolitanos em Portugal, 2012-2017 by the Mobility and Transport Authority, published in May 2019.

14 These definitions are taken from Daniel Sperling, Three Revolutions: Steering Automated, Shared, and Electric Vehicles to a Better Future, Washington, DC: Island Press, March 2018, https://islandpress.org/books/three-revolutions.

Cited in The Road Less Travelled: Reclaiming Public Transport for Climate-Ready Mobility, by Sean Sweeney and John Treat, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, Working Paper No. 12.

15 One report found that in New York City, ninety nine percent of app-based drivers are immigrants and for two-thirds of the drivers driving is their only job.

16 Here, by zero-energy we mean energy that is not reflected in the national energy balance.

17 A key angle here is that ownership of a car or the availability of a shared car may still be a necessity in 2030, but the need to actually use it must be minimized.

18 The paper “A Rapid and Just Transition of Aviation: Shifting towards climate-just mobility” prepared by the Stay Grounded network discusses just transition for the aviation industry.

19 Currently, there are flights within Norway for double the distance of Lisbon-Azores.

20 There are four types of F-gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

21 The remaining F-gases come from domestic refrigeration (3%), industrial refrigeration, transport refrigeration, and other product uses.

22 The demand of the Climate Jobs campaign for a 32 hour working week explains how this would look like. See Trinta e Duas Horas Semanais. The Stay Grounded network’s report Degrowth of Aviation has two related chapters on Fostering Alternatives and on Institutional Change of Travel Policies.

23 The demand of the Climate Jobs campaign for durable products gives a brief outline on how to combat controlled obsolescence. See Coisas Feitas para Durar.

24 Currently, a foreign tourist spends on average 2.5 nights in Lisbon.