In 2016, after more than twenty years of trying, the international community finally agreed on a global framework for how countries should respond to the challenge of climate change.

It wasn’t the first attempt: the Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit, was and still is the framework within which international negotiations take place. But the Convention stipulates no more than generic international obligations, those of “good citizens”: countries are required to limit their emissions, to meet annually to discuss their progress and to share information on their emissions (in so-called “Greenhouse Gas Inventories”) and on policies to contain them.

Later, in 1997, countries agreed on the Kyoto Protocol, but this was no longer considered a viable and effective instrument after the large increase in emissions in countries such as China or India.

The Paris Agreement has several key points:
– It is a “bottom-up” agreement in which countries do not commit directly to the reduction targets set out in the Agreement, but rather periodically (every 5 or 10 years) submit their “national contributions“, which can vary greatly between countries in various dimensions. For example, while Europe is committed to reducing its emissions quantitatively, China is committed to reaching a peak in emissions by 2030 and reducing its emissions after that;
– The Agreement quantifies precisely what the global objective is: to achieve a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases we emit as humanity and what the planet absorbs, year after year. This goal – carbon neutrality – should be achieved in the second half of the 21st century
– The Agreement deals with many other issues, such as climate finance (with the aim of financing adaptation to climate change in particularly vulnerable countries), carbon markets or the transfer of clean technology between countries. The Agreement also mobilizes non-state actors (e.g. companies).

It’s too early to tell whether the Paris Agreement will succeed. Signed in 2016, it is currently completing the first cycle of “national contributions”, which have not yet been fully implemented. However, in an encouraging sign, what can already be said is that the mechanism by which countries must commit to
increasingly ambitious targets is working. If all the targets set out in the Paris Agreement were met, recent studies indicate that the world would be on a path that would limit the increase in global temperature to 2.1 – 2.4ºC. It still wouldn’t be the goal that everyone thinks is necessary, to limit it to 1.5ºC, but it would be a substantial step up from the scenario without the Paris Agreement, when an increase of up to 4.5ºC was projected.

In the aftermath of the Oceans Conference, which Get2C had the pleasure of attending, we remind you of the important link between climate and oceans.

The conference is organized by the United Nations, this year with the support of the Governments of Portugal and Kenya in Lisbon, from June 27 to July 1, 2022.

The oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s global surface and have a significant influence on the planet’s climate due to the continuous exchange of heat, moisture and carbon with the atmosphere. They also absorb a large part of the solar radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface, help distribute heat around the globe via ocean currents and play a fundamental role in the hydrological cycle.

Thanks to these characteristics, the oceans have played a key role in mitigating global warming, as it is estimated that they have captured 90% of the excess heat produced by greenhouse gas emissions over the last 200 years. As well as regulating temperature, the oceans also store carbon through biological processes such as the absorption of carbon by marine organisms, such as algae, seagrass, macroalgae, mangroves, salt marshes and other plants in coastal wetlands; and physical processes such as the dissolution of carbon dioxide and certain marine currents that lead to carbon being sequestered in deep cold waters. Ocean waters are therefore important carbon sinks, absorbing 25% of carbon dioxide emissions.

On the other hand, climate change has consequences for marine ecosystems, as they are affected by the warming, acidification and deoxygenation of waters, as well as by rising sea levels and shrinking Arctic sea ice.

In addition to excess greenhouse gas emissions, direct human action, namely unsustainable fishing through overfishing and the direct destruction of seabed ecosystems, and marine pollution, have weakened these ecosystems, reducing their sink capacity and their ability to adapt to the consequences of climate change.

Protecting the oceans is a climate action.

Carlota Loureiro & Ana Gomes

Two different types of assets are traded on the carbon market: emission licenses (in markets such as the European Emissions Trading Scheme) and carbon credits. Allowances are equivalent to emission rights that are allocated to polluters for a certain period (typically one year). Once allocated ex ante, operators can trade these licenses among themselves. Credits have a different logic, ex post: the credit is generated by a project or activity that reduces emissions compared to a scenario in which the project did not exist. A concrete example: a wind energy project can replace the generation of electricity from technology that would typically be used for the same purpose. If this “marginal” technology that would be replaced were, for example, a natural gas plant, then the project would reduce emissions by the difference between the emission factor of natural gas (approx. 400 gr/kWh) and the emission factor of wind power (approx. 11 gr/kWh).

There are several credit systems used worldwide. The first major system is the Clean Development Mechanism, which is part of the United Nations Kyoto Protocol and currently has more than 7500 registered activities worldwide. At an unofficial level, but more widely used in the corporate carbon neutrality market, there are various systems such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), managed by a private American company, or the Gold Standard (GS) system managed by a foundation co-funded by large non-governmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund.

Credits are essentially used in two ways:
– By companies that, being obliged to reduce emissions in official carbon markets, have the legal possibility of buying credits that may be cheaper than the equivalent emission permits (compliance market).
– By companies wishing to offset their carbon footprint emissions, for example as part of carbon neutrality targets (in the voluntary carbon market).

One of the stipulations of the Paris Agreement Decision was the obligation for countries to establish a long-term strategy for their decarbonization, to be presented to other countries by 2020.
The idea is that these long-term strategies will inform and guide the successive “national contributions” that each country will have to present.

A year after the Paris Summit in Marrakech in 2017, the Portuguese government announced that it would aim to achieve carbon neutrality in its emissions by 2050. Once this announcement was made, work began on a Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality, which would crucially inform the Strategy to be presented in 2020.

The Roadmap, which was coordinated by a joint team from Get2c and Universidade Nova de Lisboa, has the following main pillars:
– Three different socio-economic evolution scenarios, based on a set of different social values and preferences:
– An “off-piste” scenario in which the main negative trends in demographic terms are accentuated, climate technology is not applied. This scenario serves as a reference for the other two scenarios.
– A first scenario of moderate social evolution, with the application of climate technology, such as electric mobility or shared mobility, or the high penetration of centralized renewables, and in which the country is in the “European peloton” of climate evolution.
– A second scenario in which Portugal is a “yellow jersey” of decarbonization, thereby motivating a whole change in “lifestyles”, urban growth patterns, and the application of technologies and lifestyles in a more “community” way.

Based on these two evolution scenarios, these evolutions were parameterized in the International Energy Agency’s TIMES model, so that this model could determine the best evolution compatible with the goal of reaching zero emissions. In parallel, a specific team tackled the issue of national sink potential.

The results finally corroborated the central idea that Portugal can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050:
– With benefits in terms of green job creation and a potentially positive impact on the national economy;
– Through the medium-term acceleration of three fundamental axes – the electrification of energy consumption such as residential heating or mobility; the almost total penetration of renewables in the electricity system, and the increase in the sink potential of the Portuguese forest.

Carbon sinks are the natural deposits – oceans, forests and soils – that absorb and capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, reducing its presence in the air.

In mitigation policy, improving the role of sinks is one of the main lines of action worldwide, alongside reducing emissions. There are, however, many and varied activities to improve the role of sinks (sink enhancement):
– Afforestation or reforestation activities, increasing the growing forest area (it is in the growth phase that trees capture the most carbon)
– Carbon capture and sequestration activities in geological formations
– Ocean sequestration activities.

In practice, however, and at scale, only afforestation and reforestation activities are currently viable on the carbon market. The technology for capturing carbon from industrial sources is already quite advanced. However, its use has only been tested en masse in activities where CO2 recovery was motivated by operational issues. For example, the reinjection of CO2 into oil wells is already widely used, as it improves the performance of existing wells.

The importance of “sink enhancement” activities is that, in the current emissions scenarios, these technologies will be essential if we are to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere once global carbon neutrality has been achieved.

Protected areas

Protected areas are delimited areas with adequate legal protection status for the preservation of biodiversity, and/or with natural elements of singular scientific, cultural, educational, aesthetic, landscape or recreational value.

Marine protected areas

MPAs are geographically delimited areas, managed by legislation, intended for the management and conservation of marine biodiversity, contributing to the sustainability of habitats, marine ecosystems and coastal communities.

Non-fossil fuel of biological origin. It is a renewable energy source that can be used to produce energy.


Biodiesel is a biofuel processed from organic matter of vegetable origin (such as soybean, rapeseed, palm, sunflower and grain oils) or animal origin (such as fat).


Concept of the diversity of living forms that exist on our planet, from microorganisms, terrestrial and marine living beings to large


Biogas is essentially made up of methane, a mixture of gases produced by the biological decomposition of organic matter in the absence of oxygen.

Biomass energy comes from organic matter of animal or plant origin (by-products of livestock farming, agriculture, forestry or wood industry exploitation, etc.) and can be used as an energy source. It is considered an alternative to fossil fuels.


The biosphere or ecosphere is the set of all ecosystems on Earth where life is permanent, including the surface layers of the lithosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere.


Carbon is a chemical element that is abundant in nature and is present in the organic substances of living beings.

Blue Carbon

Carbon that is captured from the atmosphere or ocean and stored in coastal
coastal ecosystems
mainly by algae, seagrasses, macroalgae, mangroves, salt marshes and other plants in coastal wetlands

Fossil fuels
Fossil fuels are formed through natural processes, the transformation of plant and animal waste by pressure and heat and used to fuel combustion processes such as coal, oil and natural gas. They are not renewable.

Renewable Energy Community
Renewable Energy Communities (RECs) are initiatives in which participants (citizens, local authorities, small and medium-sized businesses) invest in renewable energy systems to meet the community’s consumption needs, and can also share, store and sell surplus energy, contributing to a sustainable energy system and helping Portugal to meet national targets for electricity production from renewable energy sources.

United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is held annually and brings together representatives from around 200 governments with the aim of accelerating climate action to comply with the Paris Agreement.

Climate Convention
he United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty with the aim of stabilizing the
greenhouse gases
(GHG) in the
at levels that prevent dangerous interference with the
climate system

Biodiversity Convention
The Biodiversity Convention is an international treaty that has established the protection and use of biological diversity in each country since December 1993. The Convention on Biological Diversity has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, its sustainable use and the fair and equitable distribution of the benefits obtained from the use of resources.

Keeling Curve

The Keeling Curve is a graph that shows the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the island of Hawaii since 1958.

Earth Day
In 2009, the United Nations recognized April 22 as Earth Day, also known as Planet Earth Day or Mother Earth Day. It was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 during a demonstration to show the importance and need to preserve the world’s natural resources.

Carbon dioxide equivalent

A measure that expresses the amount of
greenhouse gases
(GHGs) in terms equivalent to the amount of
carbon dioxide

Circular economy
The circular economy is based on sharing, renting, reusing, repairing, renovating and recycling existing materials and products. The materials and products we consume and use in our daily routines involve energy consumption from the extraction of their raw materials, to their manufacture, transportation, use and recycling.

Greenhouse effect

The infrared radiative effect of all the infrared absorbing constituents in the atmosphere.

Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency results from the sustainable use of resources. This activity seeks to improve the use of energy sources to achieve a certain result.

Renewable energy
Renewable energy sources are natural resources, capable of regenerating themselves in a short period of time and in a sustainable way, used to produce energy and which are continuously renewed in nature.
Examples of renewable energy sources include sunlight, wind, water, tides, biomass and the Earth’s heat.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

ESG is an acronym used in the financial market for criteria of conduct adopted by companies to verify whether a company is socially and environmentally conscious.

Energy label

The energy label is a tool that lists all the characteristics of the equipment, allowing comparison with similar appliances.

Greenhouse gases
Greenhouse gases are gases that contribute to global warming through their accumulation in the atmosphere. The main GHGs recognized by climate policy are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH6), nitrous oxide (N2O) and various synthetic gases. Their relative contribution to global warming is measured by various metrics, the most universally accepted being Global Warming Potential. Methane (CH6), for example, has a GWP of 27.9, meaning that the emission of 1 ton of methane is equivalent in effect to the emission of 27.9 tons of carbon dioxide (GWP=1).


The term Greenwashing comes from the unjustified appropriation of the characteristics and environmental responsibility of products or initiatives by organizations or people, through sales techniques and the communication of erroneous, irrelevant claims and false information.

Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, known as IPBES, was created in 2012. Its aim is to provide the government with information on specific topics related to biodiversity and ecosystems.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as the IPCC, was created in 1998 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.

Its aim is to gather scientific information in order to disseminate the most advanced knowledge on climate change.
climate change

Basic Climate Law
The Basic Climate Law was published in December 2021, establishing national targets for reducing GHG emissions.
This law recognizes the definition of the objectives and principles of climate policy and the clarification of climate rights and duties – Portugal must reduce its emissions by at least 55%; by 2040 between 65 and 75%, and by 2050 at least 90%.


Climate change mitigation is a response to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions at a global level.

Net-Zero targets
In September 2021, a global commitment was established – the “Net Zero 2030” targets validated by the
Science Based Targets Initiative
(SBTi) – an entity that defines and promotes best practices in emissions reduction and
Net Zero.
This commitment aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and compensate for the emissions that we cannot avoid.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global agenda adopted during the United Nations Summit in 2015, which define Sustainable Development, made up of 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030.

Glasgow Climate Pact
The Glasgow Climate Pact, at COP26 in 2021, proposes measures to combat climate change in order to contain the rise in temperature to 1.5ºC, through financial support and regularization of the carbon market. It is committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010.

European Green Deal
A set of legislative proposals drawn up by the European Commission with the aim of making EU climate, energy, transport and taxation policies capable of achieving a reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Ecological footprint

The Ecological Footprint is an environmental accounting methodology used to measure the relationship between the resources produced by nature and human consumption.

It allows us to compare different consumption patterns and check whether they are within the planet’s ecological capacity.

Smart Cities developed through the use of Information and Communication Technologies. They encompass intelligence in the human and collective spheres through the pillars of innovation, public management, sustainability, inclusion and connectivity.


The concept of sustainable development emerged in 1980, related to the conservation and maintenance of natural resources in the long term, without reducing the opportunities of future generations.

Green taxonomy
Classification system developed by the European Union. Its aim is to identify economically and environmentally sustainable activities for investment purposes.