Economy Minister is available to meet climate activists, but not this Monday or at Liceu Camões

The Minister of Economy and the Sea, António Costa Silva, will meet climate activists who have been demonstrating in recent days and occupying Liceu Camões, in Lisbon, but the meeting will not take place this Monday nor should it have the educational establishment as a venue, as had been requested by the protesters.

According to information provided to Expresso by an official source, the minister’s office will this Monday contact activists to schedule a meeting at the ministry itself, as the minister does not have an agenda available this Monday.

This Sunday afternoon, Clara Pestana, activist of the movement “End the fossil: Occupy!” and one of the spokespersons for the movement at the high school, had left the challenge in statements to Lusa: “We want to invite Minister Costa Silva to come to our occupation in [Liceu] Camões [em Lisboa] tomorrow [segunda-feira] and listen to a lecture on the climate crisis given by us”, he had said before.

The public invitation came after the Minister of Economy said today, in statements to Lusa, that he was in solidarity with the climate movements and said that in the last 20 years he has not been an advocate of greater use of oil, considering that the demonstrations are legitimate and showing availability to meet with activists.

In turn, in reaction to António Costa Silva’s statements, Alice Gato, another spokeswoman for the “End the Fossil: Occupy” movement, told Lusa that an energy transition was necessary: ​​”What we are seeing is an energy expansion, responsibility also of the Minister of Economy”.

“We don’t need the solidarity of the Minister of Economy. We need a massive investment plan by the State, from six to nine billion [de euros] of public investment for climate jobs,” he said.

The activist argued that it is necessary that “there is no new gas pipeline, “declarations that it is intended to drill Portugal with more fossil gas” and “that there is no greenwashing”.

“We also don’t need greater investment in renewables that is not directly associated with cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Speaking to Lusa, the Minister of Economy and the Sea, António Costa Silva, said he was in solidarity with climate movements, with which he said he shared concerns.

However, in reaction to the activists’ request for his resignation, the minister argued: “Throughout my journey over 20 years, I have not only been a defender of renewable energies, but now in the Government we are promoting the application of these energies and the develop everything to make the energy transition work”.

“It is a fact that I had a career in the oil industry and particularly in the Partex company, but in the last 20 years I have never defended the greater use of oil. On the contrary, even within Partex, what I defended was the diversification of the company with the growing in renewable energies and Partex, with its shareholder at the time – the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation -, were one of the main investors in the ‘cluster’ of renewable energies that developed in Portugal”, he justified.

António Costa Silva recalled that from the beginning, when the country developed this commitment, it took a public position, “often against the prevailing opinion”, defending renewable energies.

When asked about the moment in the march for the climate, on Saturday, when dozens of protesters invaded a building in Lisbon, where a private event was taking place where he was, António Costa Silva considered the demonstration “absolutely legitimate”.

“Young people were demonstrating, there was in fact no possibility of engaging in any kind of dialogue under those conditions, but I will always be ready to dialogue with young people, explain what we are doing, listen to their opinions and incorporate them into everything what we are systematizing in terms of public policies. I am a man of dialogue”, he said.

Despite recalling that the Ministry of Economy does not manage the environment and energy and that, therefore, it will have to be done in articulation, he guaranteed that he was willing to do so.

“We don’t have any meetings scheduled at that level, but I think we have to be constructive and work together to see what can be done and further accelerate this transformation,” he reaffirmed.

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